Biography & lecture abstracts
Damien Loizeau was born in Poissy, France (1982). He studied Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Paris XI at Orsay. He obtained his PhD in 2008 in Planetary Geology, studying hydrated minerals at the surface of Mars. Then he worked for two years at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS) also at Orsay. He currently works as a Research Fellow at the European Space Agency's ESTEC establishment in the Netherlands. He is studying the geology of the surface of Mars with complementary datasets including near-infrared spectroscopy, visible imagery, topography and thermal imagery, to map minerals and study their geological context and ages of formation. In particular, he focuses on identifying rock formations that could have recorded habitable environment in the past, in the perspective of sending rovers to explore them in-situ. Damien's main hobbies are travel, cinema and various sports.
Lecture Geology-1: Geologic endogenic processes on Mars
The surface of Mars displays very recent signs of internal activity, with lava flows evaluated to be only a few million years old. The planet also shows signs of intense volcanic and tectonic activity for large periods of its history, with volcanic edifices that are largest than any other in the Solar System. We will first describe all datasets that can be used today to study the surface of Mars, acquired by instruments on the orbiting spacecraft that were sent from the 90's till now, specifically we will focus on the imagery and topography, and will address the imaging spectrometers. Then we will describe the geological surface formations triggered by internal processes, volcanic and tectonic, showing Martian examples to understand their morphology, together with Earth analogs, and current the hypotheses on their formation processes.
Lecture Geology-2: Geologic exogenic processes on Mars
The first signs of exogenic activity on Mars were discovered with the observation of its polar caps (back in 1666 by Giovanni Cassini). Mars is a unique body in the Solar System together with the Earth, as liquid water has circulated on its surface in the past, and has left significant signs of its activity on the surface. This has resulted in extensive geological studies of the martian surface since the first observations of fluvial features in 1971 by Mariner-9 and Mars-5, and even more today with the detection of hydrated minerals in martian rocks with more recent spectrometers. We will look at the geological features formed on the surface of the planet by the presence of water, liquid and solid, and by the atmosphere in general, due to either erosion, transport or deposition processes.
Lecture Geology-3: Impact cratering on the terrestrial planets
A very important geological feature that the terrestrial planets have in common is the presence of impact craters. They appear in a large variety of sizes, shapes and complexity: bowl-shape craters, with central up-lift, with lobate-ejecta patterns, elongated& Martian craters also have different morphology, and evolved differently with erosion and tectonic activity, depending on their age, and their latitude. Bringing energy to the martian crust, they can also trigger possible hydrothermal systems. We will review all these characteristics and describe the possible processes. But in addition to impact morphological studies, craters are also a tool to study the composition of the subsurface and the deep-crust: the impact of all sizes exhume rocks from various depths. Another powerful use of craters is to help in the qualitative and quantitative dating of planetary surfaces: we will address the method, the models and their uncertainties.
Lecture Geology-4: Searching for landing sites on Mars
Following the study of the surface morphology and composition from orbit, the next step in the understanding of the planet and its evolution consists of sending landers and rovers capable of studying the rocks at the surface, and ultimately to bring samples back to Earth for further in-depth analysis. The selection of a landing site is not trivial, and is driven by the objectives and safety of the mission. The selection process has become more detailed with the availability of increasing amounts of data of higher resolution from recent orbital missions. Another significant improvement in the selection process is the use of compositional information from spectroscopic data sets. Also, new regions are becoming accessible thanks to higher-precision landing. We will address what has driven the choice of the landing sites of the last missions, and especially the one of the MSL mission to be launched at the end of the year by NASA.
Last Update: 04 November 2011