July 30, 2020

Purdue scientist plays a critical role in 2020 NASA Mars rover mission

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The NASA Mars rover Perseverance launched Thursday (July 30), and it is heading to a location on Mars that a Purdue University scientist played a key role in selecting.

This scientifically important landing site within Jezero Crater was selected by NASA following a presentation by Briony Horgan, an associate professor of planetary science, who is a member of the Perseverance science team. Horgan led a study of the mineralogy of the site, which produced one of the major results that contributed to its selection. She also was on the team that designed the camera that will be the scientific eyes for Perseverance.

The Jezero Crater preserves evidence of a time when rivers flowed on Mars. The mission will take the next leap in space science by searching for signs of past life on the red planet. Not the Martians of comic-book science fiction, but, instead, ancient microbes may have lived in Mars' rivers, lakes and swamps billions of years ago.

More information about the mission and Horgan’s contributions are available online.

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Media contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-412-0864, apatterson@purdue.edu, @AmyPattersonN

Source: Briony Horgan, briony@purdue.edu, @ironywithab 

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Note to journalists: A photograph, b-roll and a brief on-camera interview of Purdue scientist Briony Horgan watching the NASA Mars rover launch into space are available for media use via Google Drive folder. Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

Related links:

Has life existed beyond Earth? Purdue professor going to great lengths to find out.

NASA’s big move to search for life on Mars – and to bring rocks home

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