The search for life on Mars continues

UC Geosciences professor and students contribute to Perseverance rover mission highlighted the University of Cincinnati's contribution to NASA's search for ancient life on Mars.

UC Associate Professor Andy Czaja and his students Andrea Corpolongo, Brianna Orrill and Sam Hall are members of the science team using the Perseverance rover and its helicopter sidekick to explore the red planet.

An illustration of the Mars rover on a desert surface.

An illustration of the rover Perseverance, which has spent three years exploring Mars. Illustration/NASA/JPL

Czaja teaches in the Department of Geosciences in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences. He is a paleobiologist and astrobiologist.

“Perseverance has excelled. It’s been fantastic. It has such capable instrumentation for doing the geology work. It’s able to explore distant objects with its zoom lens cameras and can focus on tiny objects at incredible resolution,” Czaja said.

Along the way, the mission has recorded a number of firsts: first powered flight, first recorded sounds of Mars, the longest autonomous drive (nearly a half-mile) and new discoveries about the planet’s geology, atmosphere and climate.

“I hope that Perseverance has just whetted our appetite for more Martian exploration. And bringing back samples will allow us to study Mars and search for evidence of ancient life with instruments that haven’t even been invented yet for years and years to come,” Czaja concluded.

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Featured image at top: UC doctoral student Andrea Corpolongo, left, and UC Associate Professor Andy Czaja are on the NASA science team exploring Mars with the Perseverance rover. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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