Virginia Gulick

Virginia Gulick

Wielding degrees in geoscience, Ginny Gulick examines erosional features on Mars, looking for the tell-tale signs of running water. Some of the meandering valley networks that lace the martian landscape may be proof of a warmer, wetter world, one that existed billions of years ago. But other features, including gullies found around many impact craters and valley walls, may bespeak water that’s still erupting and flowing on the martian surface today.

These clues as to where there was, and still may be, water on the Red Planet deserve more careful scrutiny, and Ginny is part of the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) team that directs the high resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, now busy snapping pictures of this alien landscape. It’s important to choose which parts of Mars will be photographed, as the MRO will only be able to image about 1% of the total surface.

In addition to these research efforts, Ginny is heavily into education. She has led the development of a web-based, image target suggestion tool which will allow anyone (especially students) to offer their opinions as to which martian features should be photographed with the MRO, and then allow them to collaborate in the analysis of the photos. Studying gullies is one way to avoid a research rut.

Affiliation: 

  • SETI Institute