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Dr Matt Balme

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • matt.balme

Professional biography

I am a planetary scientist specialising in planetary geomorphology. I mainly work on Mars-related research topics with a focus on aeolian and cold-climate processes. I am a senior lecturer at Open University, and work in the Planetary Environments research group - part of the School of Physical Sciences

June 2013 - Senior Lecturer, Open University, UK
June 2009 - June 2013:  UK Space Agency Aurora Fellow, Open University, UK.
January 2006 - January 2015: Research Scientist (Senior Research Scientist from 2011), Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, USA.
October 2005 to June 2009: Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Open University, UK.
April 2005 to Sept. 2005: Postdoctoral Researcher, Departement des Sciences de la Terre, Univ. Paris-Sud, Paris, France.
Dec 2004 to March 2005: Postdoctoral Researcher, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson.
May 2003 to Nov. 2003 and June 2004 to Nov 2004: Post Doctoral Research Assistant, (part time), University of Oxford, UK.
Nov. 2003 to Feb. 2004: Post Doctoral Research Associate, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UK.
April 2001 to April 2003: Post Doctoral Research Associate, Arizona State University, Phoenix, USA.

Research interests

My research interests are generally in planetary science and, more specifically, planetary geomorphology and geology. My main research interest at present is to understand the recent geological history of Mars, and how climate (and possibly climate change) has shaped the surface. I also have a strong research interest in terrestrial dust devils (small, dust loaded "mini-tornadoes" driven by insolation) and in application of GIS to planetary surfaces. Much of my research is based on remote sensing, especially using the totally awesome NASA HiRISE instrument onboard the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

Recent funding success includes a UK Space Agency grant to help define the landing sites for the ExoMars 2020 Rover and an STFC consolidated grant project "Liquid water and climate change on Mars: combining high resolution imaging studies with high resolution climate models".

Ongoing research at Open University in my group includes:

  1. Linking high resolution climate models with geomorphological observations (STFC funded with CoI Stephen Lewis. Liam Steele is the postdoctoral Research Associate on this project)
  2. ExoMars 2018 Rover landing site studies. Consortium project with partners at Birckbeck, University of London, Imperial College, Natural History Museum - London, and Leicester.
  3. Geologically recent, periglacial, glacial, aeolian, and fluvial landforms on Mars - their age, stratigraphy, geographical distriubtion and association with climate. (Three ongoing PhDs in this area: students Frances Butcher, Jason Ramsdale and Laura Brooker)
  4. Field, lab and mapping work to understand the formation process of geologically recent hillslope features on Earth, Mars and the Moon (Originally Leverhulme Trust funded, now in collaboration with CNRS Fellow Susan Conway at Nantes, France).
  5. Mapping of the Syrtis Major Volcanic complex (with Peter Fawdon, who recently completed his PhD on this topic. this is part funded by the British Geological Survey).
  6. Icelandic debris flow/debris avalanche hazard assessment using a field geophysical and geomorphology approach (NERC funded, co-supervising with Susan Conway - PhD student is Costaza Morino).
  7. Understanding dust, dust devils, and clouds in the martian atmosphere through climate models (UK SA funded, co-supervising with Stephen Lewis - PhD student is Rhian Chapman)
  8. Terrestrial remote sensing. We are working to develop new tools for high resolution surface temperature analyses. We are working in conjunction with Geoger ltd.

Teaching interests

2015-2017 S141 module team chair: "Investigative and Mathematical Skills in Science".

2013-2015 S141 module team member: "Investigative and Mathematical Skills in Science".

2011 S288 topic specialist: I was topic specialist for both the "Remote Sensing" (GIS) and "Planetary Formation and Habitability" topics.

2012-2013 S288 production team: "Planetary Formation and Habitability". I conceived and designed the Mars Online Viewer (MOV) tool (although the hard coding work was done by Andy Sutton from LTS!), I wrote course materials for investigation 4 of the topic, and also wrote the TMAs.

External collaborations

  1. ongoing ISSI team project with participants from six different countries: "Mapping the Northern Plains of Mars"
  2. studies of small aeolian ripples with Dan Berman at PSI, USA
  3. studies of small crater statistics with Bill Hartmann and Dan Berman at PSI, USA
  4. studies of martian gullies and northen plains stratigraphy with Francois Costard and  Julian Gargani at Univ. de Paris Sud, France
  5. studies of glacial and periglacial landforms, including fieldwork in Svalbard and Iceland, with Colman Gallagher (UCD, Ireland), Ernst Hauber (DLR, Germany) and Harry Heisinger and Denis Reiss (Univ. Muenster, Germany
  6. studies of dust devils with, amongst others, Asmin Pathare (PSI) and Denis Reiss (Univ. Munster)

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