Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Miss Frances Butcher

Miss Frances Butcher

Profile summary

  • Research Student
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • frances.butcher

Professional biography

My PhD research is in planetary science, with a specific focus on the geomorphology of glacial landscapes on the planet Mars. I also contribute to studies of candidate landing sites for the ExoMars 2020 Rover mission.

October 2015 - Present PhD, The Open University, UK:

  • PhD Project: 'The Geomorphology of Glacial Landscapes on Mars'
    • Supervisors: Dr Matt Balme (OU), Dr Susan Conway (University of Nantes), Dr Neil Arnold (University of Cambridge), Dr Stephen Lewis (OU), Dr Axel Hagermann (OU)
  • December 2017: Awarded the Nature Astronomy Prize for Best Student Presentation at the 1st British Planetary Science Congress, Glasgow, UK, 4-5 Dec. 2017, for a poster entitled: 'Environments of recent wet-based glaciation on Mars'.
  • September 2017:
    • Awarded the John Glen Prize for the best talk by a student at the International Glaciological Society's British Branch Meeting, Lancaster University, UK, 5-7 Sept. 2017, for a talk entitled: 'Recent basal melting of mid-latitude glaciers on Mars'.
    • Awarded the prize for best talk by a student at the Astrobiology Society of Britain: Habitability Beyond Earth conference. Open University, UK, 13-14 Sept. 2017
  • December 2016: Won the 2017 Planetary Science Institute Pierazzo International Student Travel Award, awarded to one non-US graduate student per year.
  • November 2016: Instrument Scientist on the UK Space Agency Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation (MURFI), an ExoMars-like rover mission field trial.

July 2015 - August 2015 Intern, The Open University, UK

October 2012 - June 2015 BA (Hons.) Geography, University of Cambridge, UK

  • Dissertation: 'Eskers on Mars? Investigating the Origins of the Dorsa Argentea'
    • William Vaughan Lewis Prize (University of Cambridge) for a first class dissertation 
    • Corpus Christi College Prize (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) for a first class dissertation
  • Awarded a Hewitt Exhibiton by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for contributions to outreach and admissions initiatives between 2012 and 2015.

Teaching interests

2016: Demonstrator, Natural Environment Research Council CENTA Doctoral Training Program ArcGIS Training Course, The Open University.

Invited Speaker: South-East Physics Network GRADnet Planetary Science Workshop, National Physical Laboratory, London.

  • Lecture title: 'Planetary Geomorphology in Mars Landing Site Selection'

Impact and engagement

November 2017: Media coverage of new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets: 'Recent basal melting of a mid-latitude glacier on Mars':

  • Open University press release.
  • In top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric (correct on 28/11/2017).

November 2017: Invited lecture, Denbigh School STEM lecture series, Milton Keynes

  • Lecture title: Space glaciers! Water ice on Mars and beyond...

October 2017: Fieldwork diaries podcast episode on 'Glaciers on Mars'.

September 2017: Invited lecture, Macclesfield Astronomical Society

  • Lecture title: Frozen in Time: Unlocking the Mysteries of Glaciers on Mars

May 2017: WeMartians podcast episode on Eskers on Mars

October 2015 - Present: Outreach Volunteer, The Open University

  • On-campus outreach events
  • 'Space Science Showcase', Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, 12-13th August 2016.
  • Invited lectures:
    • Various amateur astronomy societies
    • Open University student societies
    • OU School of Physical Sciences events, including open days and awards ceremonies.

October 2012- June 2015: Access and Admissions Volunteer, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

  • Awarded a Hewitt Exhibiton by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for contributions to outreach and admissions initiatives.


External collaborations

  • Neil Arnold (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK): External supervisor on PhD project 'The Geomorphology of Glacial Landscapes on Mars'
  • Colman Gallagher (University College Dublin, Ireland): Studies of glacial landscapes on Mars
  • Rob Storrar (Sheffield Hallam University, UK): Comparative studies of eskers on Earth and Mars




Recent basal melting of a mid-latitude glacier on Mars (2017-12)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Balme, M. R.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Conway, S. J.; Hagermann, A. and Lewis, S. R.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 122(12) (pp. 2445-2468)
Surface-based 3D measurements of small aeolian bedforms on Mars and implications for estimating ExoMars rover traversability hazards (2017)
Balme, Matt; Robson, Ellen; Barnes, Rob; Butcher, Frances; Fawdon, Peter; Huber, Ben; Ortner, Thomas; Paar, Gerhard; Traxler, Christoph; Bridges, John; Gupta, Sanjeev and Vago, Jorge L.
Planetary And Space Science ((Early Access))
Are the Dorsa Argentea on Mars eskers? (2016-09-01)
Butcher, Frances E.G.; Conway, Susan J. and Arnold, Neil S.
Icarus, 275 (pp. 65-84)
Time will tell: temporal evolution of Martian gullies and palaeoclimatic implications. (2018)
de Haas, T.; Conway, S. J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Levy, J.; Grindrod, P. M.; Goudge, T. A. and Balme, M. R.
In: Conway, S. J.; Carrivick, J. L.; Carling, P. A.; de Haas, T. and Harrison, T. N. eds. Martian Gullies and their Earth Analogues. Special Publications (467) ((Early view))
Publisher : The Geological Society of London | Published : London
UK Space Agency “Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation 2016” (MURFI 2016): overview of mission, aims and progress (2017-03)
Balme, M. R.; Curtis-Rouse, M. C.; Banham, S.; Barnes, D.; Barnes, R.; Bauer, A.; Bedford, C.; Bridges, J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Caballo, P.; Caldwell, A.; Coates, A.; Cousins, C.; Davis, J.; Dequaire, J.; Edwards, P.; Fawdon, P.; Furuya, K.; Gadd, M.; Get, P.; Griffiths, A.; Grindrod, P. M.; Gunn, M.; Gupta, S.; Hansen, R.; Harris, J. K.; Holt, J.; Huber, B.; Huntly, C.; Hutchinson, I.; Jackson, L.; Kay, S.; Kybert, S.; Lerman, H. N.; McHugh, M.; McMahon, W.; Muller, J.-P.; Paar, G.; Preston, L. J.; Schwenzer, S.; Stabbins, R.; Tao, Y.; Traxler, C; Turner, S.; Tyler, L.; Venn, S.; Walker, H.; Wright, J. and Yeomans, B.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 March 2017, Houston)
Morphometric Characterisation of Eskers Associated with an Extant Mid-Latitude Glacier on Mars (2017-03)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Balme, M. R.; Conway, S. J.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 March 2017, Houston, Texas, USA)
Eskers associated with Extant Glaciers in Mid-Latitude Graben on Mars: Evidence for Geothermal Controls upon Recent Basal Melting (2017-03)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Balme, M. R.; Conway, S. J.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 March 2017, Houston, Texas, USA)
The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: New Comparisons to a Large Sample of Terrestrial Eskers and Quantitative Tests for Esker-Like Topographic Relationships (2016-09)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Conway, S. J. and Arnold, N. S.
In : Sixth International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration (5-9 September 2016, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Characterizing Rock Abundance At ExoMars Landing Site Candidates (2016-03)
Sefton-Nash, E.; Bridges, J. C.; Kissick, L.; Butcher, F.; Donnelly, P.; Piercy, J. D.; Vago, J. L.; Loizeau, D.; Lorenzoni, L.; Grindrod, P. M. and Balme, M.
In : 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (21-25 March 2016, The Woodlands, Texas, USA)
The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: Comparison to new terrestrial analogues and statistical tests for topographic relationships (2016-01-22)
Butcher, F.E.G.; Conway, S.J. and Arnold, N.S.
In : UKPF 13th Annual Early Career Planetary Scientists' Meeting (22nd January 2016)
The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: Comparison to >5900 Terrestrial Esker Systems and Statistical Tests for Topographic Relationships (2016)
Butcher, F.E.G; Conway, S.J.; Arnold, N.S. and Balme, M.R.
In : 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (21-25 March, 2016, Houston, Texas)

Meet our Academics

Head and shoulders of male OU academic

In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society.

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome