Dr. Aster Cowart

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Targets of Interest: Mars

Disciplines/Techniques: Geological Image Processing, Interpretation, and Morphometry; Thermal Infrared Spectroscopy

Missions: Curiosity

Instruments: Mastcam, Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS)

My work focuses on investigating Martian geology through remote sensing. I am presently an active member of the Curiosity science operations team, where I am involved in imaging and science target selection and analysis. I am interested in developing techniques to quickly and quantitatively analyze images for geological information. Geological image analysis is often a time-consuming manual process, with statistical analyses of an imaging data generally not available until well after it was collected. This lack of quantitative near-real-time data may prevent the identification of geologically significant unit relationships until after the opportunity to study those relationships has passed. To that end, I am developing a Python-based toolkit to partially automate the analysis of Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images, which contain information on grain size, microstratigraphic relationships between multiple generations of concretions, and mechanical behavior of the rock surface.