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Dr Alex Barrett

In the field in Iceland in 2013

Profile summary

  • Visiting Formal Academic
  • Visiting Fellow
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences

Professional biography

I am a planetary environmental scientist currently focusing on periglacial geomorphology on Mars. I have recently completed my Ph.D. at the Open University, studying Planetary Science. I have degrees in Environmental Science (B.Sc. and M.Res.) From the University of Lancaster.

The focus of my Ph.D. research was the analysis of satelite images of the martian surface. I have also done work in physical simulations, both of martian periglacial processes as part of my Ph.D. and Undergraduate dissertation, and volcanic processes during my research masters.

I am currently working at the OU, preparing elements of my Ph.D. research for publication.

Research interests

My research revolves around assessing the possibility that a variety of landforms on the northern plains of Mars may have formed through periglacial processes. I am particularly interested in martian clastic patterned ground, as these features appear morphologically similar to characteristic periglacial features on Earth. If these landforms did form through periglacial sorting then this would provide a useful geomorphic marker for locations on Mars where water has been liquid in the geologically recent past. This would have useful implications for astrobiological research, resource utilisation for future missions and generally characterising the martian environment.

I am primarily involved with the analysis of remote sensing data using GIS. I have conducted a survey of several hundred high resolution HiRISE images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, locating putative periglacial features across a wide range of latitude bands. My work has involved comparing these results with terrestrial air photographs and field observations of a site in Skagafjörður in northern Iceland I to assess the likelihood that the martian features formed through periglacial processes. I have also conducted a set of laboratory studies attempting to simulate sorted patterned ground in the laboratory.

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