February 11, 2021

Mars professor searching for signs of the red planet’s evolution

WHAT: Today (Feb. 11) marks one week until the scheduled landing of the NASA Mars rover Perseverance mission. It’s an opportunity for scientists to dig into the history of the red planet and search for ancient life by studying data, images and, ultimately, samples collected by the rover.

EXPERT: Briony Horgan, a member of the NASA Mars rover mission, can talk about what discoveries the rocks of the Mars surface could hold. Horgan is an associate professor of planetary science in the College of Science at Purdue University.   

QUOTE: “It is going to be absolutely inspiring. We’ll be the first humans to see Jezero Crater on Mars, the first to try to understand what it is telling us about ancient life on Mars.” 


  • Led the research team that studied and presented Mars’ Jezero Crater to NASA as the mission landing site.
  • Helped design the camera that will be the scientific eyes for Perseverance.
  • Co-investigator in several previous or ongoing NASA lunar and Mars programs.
  • Field of expertise in surface geology, mineralogy, rover studies and remote sensing of the terrestrial planets, as well as visible, near-infrared and thermal-infrared spectroscopy.


Writer, Media contact: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu

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

Journalists visiting campus: Journalists should follow Protect Purdue protocols and the following guidelines:

  • Campus is open, but the number of people in spaces may be limited. We will be as accommodating as possible, but you may be asked to step out or report from another location.
  • To enable access, particularly to campus buildings, we recommend you contact the Purdue News Service media contact listed on the release to let them know the nature of the visit and where you will be visiting. A News Service representative can facilitate safe access and may escort you on campus.
  • Correctly wear face masks inside any campus building, and correctly wear face masks outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.


Note to Journalists: Various photos, video and interview clips of Briony Horgan, as well as NASA images related to the Mars rover mission, are available via this Google Drive folder. Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

Research News

More Research News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-22 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at purduenews@purdue.edu.