Hello, my name is Yves Langevin and I live in Palaiseau, near Paris, France. As a ChemCam team member, my main interest is in mineralogy, specifically, linking the ChemCam analyses on the surface with the results from orbiting experiments, in particular OMEGA on Mars Express. When I’m not working on ChemCam, I am preparing, as co-PI, for a major experiment onboard the European mission to Mercury (BepiColombo). I also manage a space laboratory near Paris and participate in defining the science policy of CNES (the French national space agency). My previous work that has prepared me for ChemCam include the infrared spectrometer onboard the 1990 Russian "Phobos" mission and OMEGA onboard the European Mars Express orbiter.
I was 10 years old when Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth and five days shy of 18 years old when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. Coming from a family with very strong scientific traditions initiated by my great-grandparents, I aimed since high school to be involved in space science, and in particular planetary exploration. Why Mars? Mars is the planet in our solar system which manages to be completely different from the Earth while presenting nearly the full gamut of geological and meteorological processes observed on our planet; volcanoes, canyons, polar caps, clouds and snow fall, etc. As such it is a preferred target of planetary exploration, with the remote possibility that in some distant future there may be human settlements.
Mars is important to study because of recent discoveries of long periods of liquid water on the surface early in the history of Mars. These discoveries have confirmed that this planet provides by far the best opportunity in our solar system for discovering the markers of fossil life which evolved independently from life on Earth. If this turns out to be the case, then life will have to be considered the rule, not the exception, on all planets in the Universe where water was or is present. When set in the perspective of the discoveries of hundreds of planets around other stars, this is arguably one of the most important questions in contemporary science.