Mars Perseverance, Bullaki Science Podcast with N. Tosca

by Samuele Lilliu | 2 February 2022

Prof. Nicholas Tosca talks about the PIXL instrument on the Perseverance Rover and origin of life on Earth and elsewhere.

In this Bullaki Science Podcast hosted and filmed by Samuele Lilliu in our recording studio in Cambridge, Prof. Nicholas Tosca talks about the PIXL instrument on the Perseverance Rover and how knowledge on Mars geology can advance our understanding on the origin of life on Earth and elsewhere.

Nicholas Tosca is a Professor the Mineralogy & Petrology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. His research interest include understanding the co-evolution of life and environments through Earth’s early history. He’s also science team member of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission, currently exploring the ancient surface of Mars and seeking signs of ancient life.

Learning about the ongoing Mars 2020 mission has been a fascinating pre-production experience. During pre-production I’ve had the opportunity to explore some exciting aspects of the Perseverance Rover, which is essentially a travelling automated laboratory packed with instrumentation and exploring what used to be lakes and rivers on the Martian surface billions of years ago. In my discussion with Nick we had the opportunity to go through some of his peer-reviewed works and present them to the public in an accessible manner.

Post-production from our side involves synching the three video tracks from the two Canon C200 and the BMPCC4K with the audio recorded on the Mix Pre-3. This is done via Premiere Pro. After creating a multi-cam sequence we proceed with automated cuts between the three cameras using my custom AI-based language recognition system. The software detects who’s talking and does a cut when either Nick or myself are talking. When there’s a back and forth dialogue the third camera (wide angle) is used. The deployment of my software massively speeds up the post-production workflow. After the cuts are done, I export the EDL sequence to Davinci Resolve, where I colour grade the final footage. Then I return to Premiere Pro, where I finalise the audio processing using Audition.