Dr. Wiens started his scientific career by writing the first dissertation on the Mars atmosphere based on samples analyzed in the laboratory, from martian meteorites. He has worked as a scientist at Caltech, the University of California, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has made extended research visits to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France.
Dr. Wiens was responsible for three instruments for NASA’s Genesis mission and he acted in the capacity of Flight Payload Lead. This mission was the first to return to Earth from beyond the Moon, when it landed with solar-wind samples that have revealed exciting details about the composition of the Sun.
Dr. Wiens is the leader of the ChemCam laser instrument on the Curiosity rover (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/; http://www.msl-chemcam.com) which landed in 2012. He has directed the US and French team operating ChemCam and interpreting the data returned from Mars. Wiens has been involved in other NASA robotic missions as well, including Stardust, Mars Odyssey, Lunar Prospector, and Deep Space-One, which include missions to the Moon, Mars, and comets. Since 2014 he has led the SuperCam laser instrument developed for the Perseverance rover, which is set to land on Mars in February 2021. Wiens has been recognized by NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory for his contributions to science. In 2016 he was knighted by the government of France for his work in “forging strong ties between the French and American scientific communities” and for “inspiring many young, ambitious earthlings.” He has received other awards, including the naming of Asteroid 41795 WIENS. Dr. Wiens is a very active writer and speaker, giving several public talks each month and publishing a dozen papers per year. Models of his teams’ instruments are displayed in museums in Los Alamos and Toulouse, France. His book, Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity, published in 2013 (Basic Books, New York), describes his teams’ space adventures. Dr. Wiens has a vision to communicate to the public the adventure and challenge of space exploration and to encourage others to pursue their dream despite the obstacles.
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On Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance landed on Mars with two LANL instruments that will play key roles in searching for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet! The rover is also powered by a unique battery developed by LANL and other U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national labs: Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Click here to watch a short video presented by Dr. Wiens