The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Dr. Ralf Gellert

Dr. Ralf Gellert, 46, Physicist

Has there ever been life on Mars? If anyone ever answers that question, it will likely be this man. A German-born physicist now working at the University of Guelph, this past August, Dr. Gellert was on hand at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., sweating out the landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity. That’s because one of the most important tools onboard the Curiosity – the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer – was engineered by Dr. Gellert. By monitoring the chemical composition of rocks on the Red Planet, he hopes his APXS will help shed some light on the mysterious past of our closest neighbour in the galaxy. “It’s a detective story. You get clues – and try to discover what happened billions of years ago [on Mars].”