Ray Arvidson

Raymond Arvidson


James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Contact Information
Media Contact

Raymond E. Arvidson, director of the Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory in the McDonnell Center for Space Sciences, is an interdisciplinary scientist focused on teaching and research about current and past environments on Earth, Mars and Venus.

He is the deputy principal investigator for the highly successful Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), and he has been instrumental in developing and implementing both orbital and landed missions to the planets. He is a science team member and mobility specialist for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover that has been exploring Mars since August 2012.

Arvidson is also the director of the NASA Planetary Data System Geosciences Node, helping make NASA data available to the worldwide research community.

In the media

Stories

$11.8 million award renews planetary geosciences data effort

$11.8 million award renews planetary geosciences data effort

Scientists in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences will continue to archive and distribute digital data related to the study of the surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies under a five-year cooperative agreement with NASA.
WashU Expert: Mission complete

WashU Expert: Mission complete

Ray Arvidson, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, talks about the end of Opportunity’s longer-than-expected 15-year mission — he was the deputy principal investigator for the Mars exploration rover for NASA.
WashUExpert: Organic molecules on Mars

WashUExpert: Organic molecules on Mars

The Curiosity Rover mission found signs of organic materials on Mars dating back about 3.5 billion years, NASA announced June 7. It could be a big deal, said Raymond Arvidson, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences.
A spillway on Mars?

A spillway on Mars?

NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for signs that they may have been either transported by a flood or eroded in place by wind.
WashU Expert: Arvidson on news that water still flows on Mars

WashU Expert: Arvidson on news that water still flows on Mars

NASA announced earlier this week that dark streaks that appear on Martian slopes in the summer, lengthen and then fade as winter approaches are seeps of salty water. The news that Mars still has surface water again raised hopes that it may have life. It will take thoughtful mission planning to find out, says Washington University in St. Louis Mars expert Ray Arvidson, PhD.
Spirit of St. Louis on Mars

Spirit of St. Louis on Mars

The Opportunity rover is currently exploring a Martian crater named the Spirit of St. Louis, after the famous aircraft — which was in turn named in honor of St. Louis citizens who purchased it for Charles Lindbergh. The mission team picked this naming scheme because Washington University team members spotted a promising target just beyond the crater. As long as the rover remains in the crater, the names will drawn from a list of names related to the famous flight.

From high school dropout to landing Curiosity on Mars: Adam Steltzner on how ‘Curiosity Changed My Life’

Nothing in Adam Steltzner’s younger years pointed to his becoming NASA’s chief engineer for the highly delicate landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. He flunked high school geometry and dropped out to join a rock band. On March 26, Steltzner will tell how “Curiosity Changed My Life” for the Assembly Series. His presentation, which will begin at 6 p.m. in Graham Chapel, is free and open to the public.
Happy 10th anniversary Opportunity!

Happy 10th anniversary Opportunity!

Ten years ago, on Jan. 24, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on a flat plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars and rolled into an impact crater scientists didn’t even know existed. In honor of the rover’s 10th anniversary, Ray Arvidson, PhD, deputy principal investigator of the rover mission, recently took an audience on a whirlwind tour of the rover’s decade-long adventures and discoveries.
NASA’s Opportunity at 10: new findings from old rover

NASA’s Opportunity at 10: new findings from old rover

In the Jan. 24 edition of the journal Science, Ray Arvidson, PhD, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis and deputy principal investigator of the MER mission to Mars, writes in detail about the discoveries made by the Opportunity rover and how these discoveries have shaped our knowledge of the planet.

WUSTL alumna selected as a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Bethany Ehlmann, who graduated from WUSTL in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary science, has been selected as one of 17 Emerging Explorers by National Geographic. The Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists and innovators who are at the forefront of discovery, adventure and global problem-solving while still early in their careers.

Ray Arvidson offers updates on Mars rover missions

With all the fanfare about Mars rover Curiosity landing safely on the Red Planet on Aug. 6, it’s easy to forget that there’s already a rover on Mars — an older, smaller cousin set to accomplish a feat unprecedented in the history of Solar System exploration. WUSTL’s Raymond E. Arvidson is playing key roles in both Mars missions.

New Mars rover’s mechanics to be used to study Martian soil properties

NASA has announced that Raymond E. Arvidson, PhD, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, has been selected to be a participating scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory, a mission to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on Mars. Arvidson proposed that he use the rover itself as a terramechanics instrument to learn about Martian soils. He will be using a simulation of the rover and of the Martian terrain to contribute to path planning for the rover and to look for crusted soils created by the modern Martian water cycle.

Opportunity on verge of new discovery

The Mars rover Opportunity, which was designed to operate for three months and to rove less than a mile, has now journeyed more than seven years crossing more than 21 miles. Today, it is poised at the edge of a heavily eroded impact basin, the possible location of clay minerals formed in low-acid wet conditions on the red planet.

Sand-trapped Mars Rover makes big discovery, WUSTL researcher reports

NASA’s robotic rover Spirit, bogged down in the loose soil of a Red Planet crater for months, has helped make an important scientific discovery just by spinning its wheels. “We’ve found something supremely interesting in the disturbed soil,” says WUSTL’s Raymond Arvidson, deputy principal scientist on the mission. Sulfate minerals churned up by the rover’s wheels offer evidence that this area “could have once supported life,” he explains.

Ray Arvidson to deliver inaugural Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture

Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Washington University, will deliver the inaugural Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 in Room 100, Brown Hall, on the university’s Danforth Campus. Arvidson, who has played key roles in NASA’s missions to Mars, including the current Phoenix Mars Mission, will discuss “Mars: Environments, Habitability, and Life” during the free lecture that is open to the public.

Washington University faculty, students key to Phoenix Mars Mission

Image courtesy of NASAThe Phoenix Mars Lander on the northern Mars plains, searching for evidence of ice and water.Among the many Phoenix Mars Mission workers are Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the WUSTL chair of earth and planetary sciences, a computer specialist and four WUSTL students. Their goal is to infer from images and other data the geological history of the landing site and to imply some theories about current and past climate on Mars. Will they find ice?

Phoenix mission to Mars will search for climate clues

Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the earth and planetary sciences department in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and a number of his student and personnel have major roles in the Phoenix mission to Mars. The space craft lands in the northern plains on May 25, 2008, and Arvidson is a key operations manager during the critical first week of operations. (Video available)

Earth and planetary sciences, Chinese Academy, sign research agreement

David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoRaymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, and chair of earth and planetary sciences (left), and Dong Shuwen, Ph.D., vice president of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, sign an agreement between Arvdison’s department and the Academy.The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (CAGS) have signed a research agreement that will involve collaboration on a number of research thrusts, travel between the two institutions, and eventually student exchanges that could lead to some Chinese students attaining doctorates from Washington University in St. Louis. The agreement was signed Sept. 18 at a ceremony and reception held on the third floor of the Earth and Planetary Sciences building.

New software enables easy access to huge Mars database

Image courtesy of NASAThe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) taking pictures of Mars.A software program developed by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis is allowing access to planetary data and early images from the most powerful spectral camera ever sent to Mars. The information is now available on NASA’s online planetary data archive.

Undergraduate paves way for NASA Mars mission

Tabatha Heet, a junior earth and planetary sciences major and Pathfinder student, shows Ray Arvidson, earth and planetary sciences department chair, a potential landing site for the Phoenix mission to Mars.Earth and planetary scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are paving the way for a smooth landing on Mars for the Phoenix Mission scheduled to launch in August this year by making sure the set-down literally is not a rocky one. A team led by Raymond E. Arvidson, Ph.D., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences, has been analyzing images taken from a NASA instrument to make sure that the Phoenix spacecraft lands in a spot on the Red planet’s northern plains that is relatively rock-free. Video included.

NASA spacecraft read layered clues to changes on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.Polar layered deposits exposed in a scarp at the head of Chasma Boreale, a large canyon on Mars.Mars climate history, recorded in ice-rich deposits near the poles, on crater-wall cliffs and ancient sand dunes, is being revealed by a trio of NASA instruments now flying over and rolling across the planet, suggest Washington University in St. Louis researchers playing key roles in the mission.

Marshall Scholarship goes to Arts & Sciences senior

Jeffrey Marlow is among the 43 young Americans to receive a 2007 Marshall Scholarship, which provides full support for two or three years of study at any British university toward a second bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree. Marlow, a senior in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, is WUSTL’s first Marshall Scholar since 1993.

‘Taking a bite out of the problem’

Josh Smith compares tooth measurements of unidentified dinosaur species with those of known *Tyrannosaurus* specimens.A paleontologist at WUSTL has concocted a mathematical scheme for identifying dinosaurs based upon measurements of their copious Mesozoic dental droppings. His method could help paleobiologists identify and reconstruct the lives of the creatures that roamed terra firma many millions of years ago.

Water detection at Gusev crater described

Alian Wang in the laboratoryA large team of NASA scientists, led by earth and planetary scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, details the first solid set of evidence for water having existed on Mars at the Gusev crater, exploration site of the rover Spirit.

Map of life on Earth could be used on Mars

Carinne Blank has a method she uses to date ancient life forms that could be helpful for specimens from Mars.A geologist from Washington University in St. Louis is developing new techniques to render a more coherent story of how primitive life arose and diverged on Earth – with implications for Mars.

News coverage spotlights WUSTL’s role in Mars exploration

Courtesy NASA/JPL/CornellArtist’s rendition of the rover on Mars.Washington University faculty, staff and students are making critical contributions to the success of NASA’s ongoing rover mission to Mars. Visit here for links to the latest news on the 2004 Mars Rover Mission, as well as background on other Mars-related research at Washington University.

‘Heavy metal’ snow on Venus is lead sulfide

David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoBruce Fegley, Jr. and Laura Schaefer, with a chunk of galena, or lead sulfide.Lead sulfide — also known by its mineral name, galena — is a naturally occurring mineral found in Missouri, other parts of the world, and now. . .other parts of the solar system. Because recent thermodynamic calculations by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis provide plausible evidence that “heavy metal snow,” which blankets the surface of upper altitude Venusian rocks, is composed of both lead and bismuth sulfides.