LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- NASA has selected another UNLV professor to join the team of scientists working on the Mars 2020 mission.
Associate Professor Arya Udry was selected in mid-November as one of 13 scientists added to Nasa’s Participating Scientist Program. This makes her the second UNLV professor to join the mission. Dr. Libby Hausrath was selected last year.
The mission will investigate past life on Mars. Udry will investigate through the rock record.
The Mars Perseverance Rover, whose mission is to look for signs of past life on the Red Planet, launched from Earth on July 30. It’s scheduled to land February 18, 2021.
“I found out, I believe it was mid-November and I was alone in my living room and just started jumping and calling my friends and family immediately. I’ve loved space my whole childhood,” Udry said.
Udry has already studied meteorites, but now this mission will provide a direct way for to know and sample from exactly where rocks on the planet are from.
“My goal will be using several scientific instrument that are on the rover to understand what are the chemistry, what are the minerals, you know quartz is a mineral but what kind of minerals you’ll find in the rocks in the location, in the site where the rover will land. But I am mostly interested in magmatic evolution of Mars- the interior of Mars, how has it changed throughout the time- you know what is the composition of magma?” Udry said.
Udry’s work will help support the work of Dr. Hausrath. They’re part of a team that will decide which rocks and soil samples will be brought back to Earth. The actual rover will not return from Mars, but a box of samples will in 2031.
“It’s hard to express how happy I am to be on this mission and honored to be on this mission,” Udry said.
The mission team has been working together for past six years.
The Mars Perseverance Rover is expected to land inside the Jezero Cerater on February 18.