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Beline Obeid
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Winning Mars team visits APL


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August 27, 2015
For the second year, students from Grosse Pointe North High School were selected as the first place team for their Mars research project as part of the Mars Exploration Student Data Teams competition, a national program jointly sponsored by NASA and Arizona State University.

The students were members of the Radio Astronomy Team, a North club. They elected to do Mars research as an additional activity, working throughout the school year, after school and on weekends. Joey Bejin, Gabby Feeny and Jamie Lackner had worked on Mars research in previous years. They were joined by new members Nate Atkinson, Michelle Bridges and Adam Gellert.

The team researched an area in the southern hemisphere of Mars called Terra Sirenum. The area contains some of the oldest terrains and large craters that might have been lakes in Mars’s ancient past. The goal of the research was to investigate if two of the craters shared a common aquifer.

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Photo courtesy of Ardis Herrold From left, Michelle Bridges, Nate Atkinson, Joey Bejin and Adam Gellert.
In the MESDT program, students participated in a series of training webinars from Mars scientists and discussed their questions through an online forum. They presented their research via a PowerPoint presentation, along with other high school teams from across the country, during a web conference call with Mars scientists in May.

The team received a travel scholarship for winning the competition. They spent two days in early August at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. Students toured various labs to see where spacecraft and instruments were designed, built and tested. They presented their research again as part of a colloquium with college interns who had spent their summers working at APL.

One highlight was a morning geology field trip to collect rocks, led by planetary geologist Kim Seelos. Later that afternoon, the team extracted infrared spectra from the rock specimens, in much the same way they studied the rocks on Mars. The group also enjoyed a dinner with planetary scientists and engineers.

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