Western University PhD student receives NASA recognition for operating Mars rover

Western University PhD student Raymond Francis has received recognition from NASA for his exemplary work in planetary science and engineering, which includes operating the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars from his lab in London, Ontario.

The NASA Group Achievement Award is given to individuals who have contributed substantially to an outstanding group accomplishment that is aligned with the space agency’s overall mission.

Francis is a member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission science operations team. In this capacity, Francis takes the lead role one or two days a week for planning environmental and atmospheric science experiments and observations of the Curiosity rover. His work on the MSL mission is supervised by John Moores, an MSL Participating Scientist and an adjunct professor at Western’s Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Specializing in wind dynamics, Francis developed an automated computer algorithm that analyzes weather patterns on Mars by studying images of clouds formations floating in the red planet’s atmosphere.

His PhD research is co-supervised by Ken McIsaac from Western’s Faculty of Engineering and Gordon Osinski from the Faculty of Science, who serves as Associate Director of Western’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX).

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99

Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.