Fox19: UC contributes to search for life on Mars

Astrobiologist Andy Czaja and his students serve on the NASA science team exploring Mars

Fox19 highlighted work by students their professor at the University of Cincinnati who are helping NASA search for evidence of ancient life on Mars.

UC College of Arts and Sciences associate professor Andy Czaja and doctoral students Andrea Corpolongo and Desirée Baker serve on the NASA science team that is using the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter to look for evidence of ancient life on Mars.

Andrew “Andy” Czaja, Geology Assistant Professor shown here in his office, lab and outside GEO-PHYS building Monday July 27, 2020. UC/ Joseph Fuqua II

Andy Czaja, associate professor in UC's College of Arts and Sciences.

Finding evidence that life exists — or existed at one time — on the red planet would change our fundamental understanding of our place in the universe. It also would help explain just how easy or difficult the creation and establishment of life on any planet is, which might give us a better appreciation for our own blue planet.

In its second year, the Perseverance rover mission has begun its task in earnest to look for evidence of ancient life in Jezero Crater, a former river delta chosen by Czaja and other NASA scientists because of its likelihood to hold ancient clues to the past when Mars contained an atmosphere and surface water.

"It means everything professionally. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this team that's ... looking for evidence of ancient life on another planet," Czaja told Fox19.

Watch the Fox19 story.

Featured image at top: An illustration of the Perseverance rover using its suite of instruments to inspect a rock on Mars. Graphic/NASA-JPL/Caltech

A view looking over Perseverance's body to its tracks in the Martian dirt.

The Perseverance rover captured its own tracks with its cameras. UC students and their professor serve on the NASA science team deciding daily where to send the rover and what to study on the Martian surface. Photo/NASA-JPL/Caltech