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Location: Canada

Photo of Ratan Mohapatra
   Ratan Mohapatra

What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?


What are your personal goals for the future?

To understand the origin and evolution of Mars by studying samples from the planet.

What are your dreams for the future of exploration?

Sample return.

What portion of this mission interests you the most?


What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?

We can indeed understand Mars by carefully studying the Mars meteorites.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

My research requires high precision measurement of 25 stable isotopes in a few milligrams of a Martian meteorite sample or of few thousand atoms of xenon in sub-millimeter sized grains from a meteorite. This often presents an experimental challenge. I spent a significant part of my research career in developing the required analytical facilities at the Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany and at the University of Manchester, U.K.

What is unique about your job?

I am among very few in the world who apply the isotopes of nitrogen and noble gases (comprising 25 isotope tracers) to understand the volatile history and evolution on Mars. The information has crucial implications for the origin and evolution of the Red Planet and for the early solar system.

What’s the most extraordinary experience you've had so far on this mission?

I analyzed a sample of atmosphere trapped in a meteorite that formed 4.5 billion years ago on Mars.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An Astronaut!

What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?

I am excited about Mars as it provides a nice place for studying the origin and evolution of Earth-like planets. Much of the relevant information on Earth is hard to access due to continued evolution (magmatism, plate tectonics…), while on Mars things seem to have been “frozen”.

Do you work on any other projects at your company?

At the University of Ottawa, I apply my analytical expertise to monitor hazards from nuclear industrialization and work with nuclear power industries to efficiently dispose radioactive waste.

Do you have any hobbies?

Graphic Designing, Computer programming

Ratan Mohapatra:
  Background Information
  Contributions to Mars Exploration
  Personal Reflections