LAS VEGAS – A UNLV associate professor will take part in a historic mission to Mars to find evidence of life on the red planet.
Dr. Libby Hausrath teaches geoscience at UNLV and specializes in how rocks interact with water. Her research caught the attention of NASA and she was recruited to join a 10-person team of scientists who will decide what samples are used for study on Mars.
The mission alone is significant for space and science exploration. The Mars 2020 mission will be the first time a sample of rocks and soil from Mars will be brought back to earth. It’s also the first time a rocket will launch from a planet other than Earth and the moon.
In July 2020, NASA will send a rover to Mar’s Jezero crater, an ancient dried up lakebed. If there was life on Mars, a lakebed and the rocks left behind will show that.
While the rover takes off next year, it won’t land on the red planet until February 2021. The exact return date of the samples is still undetermined, but it could take several more years.