Howard University Graduate School

HUGS Research Magazine
and Graduate School Research Archive

ARTICLE Issue 006

Graduate Student Profile:  Raul Garcia-Sanchez

By Gwendolyn S. Bethea, Ph.D.

Raul Garcia-Sanchez, Doctoral Student in Physics and Astronomy
Raul Garcia-Sanchez, Doctoral Student in Physics and Astronomy

Raul Garcia-Sanchez is a sixth-year doctoral student in the field of physics and astronomy. Garcia-Sanchez has developed a Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Terrestrial Backgrounds Library as part of the contamination control protocols for the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover mission. Garcia-Sanchez states that the goal of this research was to create a library containing GCMS signature of rover materials in the Earth environment.

"The identification of these compounds will allow us to compare the signals that were found on the rover during its preparation phase and filter out those spectra that are likely to have come from the Earth environment, reducing the likeliness of finding impurities in Mars data due to SAM’s sensitivity being in the parts per billion range. The development of this library allows the identification of compounds found on Earth that would be inadvertently detected in the Mars soil and gaseous samples as impurities. Basically, if we find traces of organic materials that could be related to life, we want to ensure that those organic material signals are coming from the Mars environment and not because the rover used to be on Earth and something hitched a ride to Mars with it," he explains.

A native of Puerto Rico, Garcia-Sanchez has conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. P. Misra, professor, physics and astronomy, for six years. His anticipated graduation date is spring 2015.

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