About the author

Nicole Schmitz

Nicole Schmitz

Nicole Schmitz is a planetary scientist and engineer at DLR's Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, Germany. The research group focuses on the study of planetary geology using data obtained from cameras, spectrometers and other instruments on various space missions. Schmitz has been involved in the design and development of instruments for planetary exploration missions, mission planning and execution and science activities for Mars, Jupiter, Moon and asteroid missions.

She is currently Co-Principal Investigator of the PanCam instrument on ESA's upcomming ExoMars rover and Co-Investigator of the Mastcam-Z instrument on NASA's Perseverance rover. Her involvement in other missions include the Japanese Hayabusa-2 asteroid sample return mission, ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer Mission (JUICE), the Mars Moon Exploration Mission MMX and the Russian Lunar Mission Luna-27. In preparation for future Mars missions, she is regularly involved in analogue studies in Earth's polar regions to prepare future Mars rovers and their instruments for their scientific tasks on Mars.

Posts from Nicole Schmitz

Space | 23. February 2021

'We' are on Mars – here we go!

On 18 February 2021, the Perseverance rover of NASA's Mars 2020 mission landed on Mars safe and sound. The research mission, initially scheduled to last two years, has begun. In this blog, DLR researcher Nicole Schmitz, together with her colleague Frank Preusker, will report regularly on the progress of the mission and the camera experiment in which they are involved. Both are part of the Science Team of the Mastcam-Z instrument, a stereo camera located on Perseverance's approximately two-metre-high mast. read more

Space | 28. September 2018

Teamwork: Hayabusa2 and MASCOT and the role of the lander's camera

Hayabusa2 and MASCOT will make a first-class team when they start investigating Ryugu. While Hayabusa2 will observe the asteroid's surface from the home position and take soil samples, MASCOT will examine the asteroid surface directly on site. Our MASCOT camera, called MASCAM, plays an important role here, as it will take high-resolution images of the surface, while Hayabusa2 will later obtain soil samples that will be brought back to Earth. This is important in ensuring that the samples are later interpreted in the correct context in the laboratory on Earth. The pictures that the camera acquires of the surface thus serve as the bridge between the lower-resolution images provided by the Hayabusa2 probe, at a distance from the asteroid, and the laboratory images of the samples brought back to Earth. read more

Space | 16. February 2016

Abschied von der Mario Zucchelli-Station, Datenauswertung und Ozeanographie - Teil 10

Es ist Freitag, der 12. Februar 2016. Ich sitze in meiner Kabine auf der "Italica", die ich mit drei Kolleginnen teile: der Geologin Tina, der Geophysikerin Antonia und der Expeditionsärztin Ulrike. Es ist 14 Uhr nachmittags, wir haben gerade gegessen, vor unserem Bullauge treiben die Eisschollen vorbei, und wir vier sind alle damit beschäftigt, unsere Daten zu analysieren und erste Zusammenfassungen unserer Ergebnisse aufzuschreiben. read more

Space | 12. January 2016 | 1 Comment

Forschen unter extremen Bedingungen - Teil 5

Es ist Sonntag, der 10. Januar 2016, 15:30 Uhr, und wir sitzen gerade im warmen Küchen- und Arbeitszelt im Helliwell Hills-Camp, mittlerweile auch scherzhaft "Helliwell Hell" genannt. Draußen tobt seit heute Nacht ein Schneesturm mit Windstärken von bis zu 60 Knoten. Der Wind pfeift um unser Zelt, rüttelt an den Zeltwänden, und treibt immer wieder Schnee durch sämtliche Ritzen. read more

Space | 10. January 2016

Wir betreten den antarktischen Kontinent - Teil 4

Nach zwölf Tagen auf See und weiteren drei Tagen auf dem Schiff konnten wir pünktlich zu Neujahr am 1. Januar 2016 endlich den antarktischen Kontinent betreten. Im Moment genießen wir die Gastfreundschaft unserer italienischen Kollegen in der Mario Zucchelli-Station in der Terra Nova-Bucht, während wir auf gutes Flugwetter warten, um unsere Reise in Richtung der Helliwell Hills fortsetzen zu können. read more