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Linda Kah, an associate professor in earth and planetary sciences, has been working with NASA on the Curiosity rover mission to Mars for eight years.

She will be discussing the mission at the Science Forum on Friday.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research and the general public to learn about science through a conversational presentation.

The weekly presentations begin at noon on Fridays in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. Science Forum presentations are free and open to the public.

Kah will talk about the mission’s goal to assess if any area of Mars is habitable or has been in the past. She will explain the makeup of the Curiosity rover, how it will assess habitability, and a few of its recent discoveries. She also will discuss why the mission chose Gale Crater for this excursion.

Kah’s job on the mission is co-investigator on several of the camera teams, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California.

A few days a week, she works to help choose objects for the rover to photograph and makes sure that the cameras are programmed correctly.

“The remaining time I act as a full-fledged part of the science team as a geologist and an expert in interpreting both textural information and chemistry of rocks: participating in discussions and planning sessions, and interpreting the images and other data that come down,” she said.

Future Science Forums will feature:

  • February 22: Lt. Robby Nix, critical care paramedic for the Rural Metro Fire Department, presenting “Firefighter Paramedics and the Hot Potato Baby—It’s Not What You Think.”
  • March 1: Juan-Carlos Idrobo, research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discussing “Exploring the Universe One Atom at a Time.”
  • March 8: Dr. Paul Campbell Erwin, professor and head of the Department of Public Health, presenting “John Snow and Cholera: The Foundation for Modern Disease Investigation.”
  • March 15: Kevin Hoyt, director of UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, presenting “The Proposed UT AgResearch Gas and Oil Well Research Project.”
  • April 5: William T. Bogart, president of Maryville College and professor of economics, discussing “Cargo Cult Economic Policy: Urban Development and Green Energy.”
  • April 12: Stephanie K. Drumheller-Horton, instructor of earth and planetary sciences, presenting “Crocodylian Bite Marks in the Fossil Record.”
  • April 19: Devon M. Burr, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences, discussing “The Moon That Would Be A Planet: Saturn’s Giant Titan.”
  • April 26: Joan Markel, curator of Civil War exhibits at the McClung Museum, presenting “Digging into Our Civil War Past.”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research. For more information about the Science Forum, visit the Office of Research website.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Holly Gary (865-974-2225,