Hi there! My name is Noureddine Melikechi and I live in Dover, DE, USA. I contribute to the ChemCam team as a physicist by aiding in the analysis of the laser induced breakdown spectroscopy data of various samples. My work on laser induced breakdown spectroscopy of organic compounds, including biomedical ones, and my background as an experimental physicist will be beneficial to me as a team member. When I’m not working on ChemCam, I work on other projects including identifying signatures for the early detection of cancers. I also like to coach and play soccer.
As a young child growing up in a small village in Algeria, I did not have opportunities to meet scientists. However, I had wonderful and great mathematics and biology teachers who sparked my interest in these fields, and science in general. When I was 10-13 years old I wanted to become either a brain surgeon or a mathematician. Brain surgery combined my fascination with the brain and its capacity to do all it does with my desire to help people. The appeal of mathematics is its beauty and power to solve complex problems. Mars is a planet that has always attracted my interest because of its relative proximity and resemblance to earth. A meeting with Roger Wiens from Los Alamos enhanced my interest as we discussed the idea of using lasers to explore space and better understand planets.
ChemCam is important because it allows us to study the elemental composition that will be used to determine the types of rocks on the surface of Mars and its mineralogy. An MSL/ChemCam discovery that would excite me the most would be evidence of the presence, or absence, of amino acids (in any form) on the surface of Mars. I am also excited about the mission's educational component that will inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.