Mars rover

Photo by Mark Simons/Purdue University

Briony Horgan, associate professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at Purdue University, watches the NASA Mars rover Perseverance launch July 30.

WEST LAFAYETTE — The NASA Mars rover Perseverance launched Thursday (July 30), and it is heading to a location on Mars that a Purdue University scientist played a key role in selecting.

This scientifically important landing site within Jezero Crater was selected by NASA following a presentation by Briony Horgan, an associate professor of planetary science, who is a member of the Perseverance science team. Horgan led a study of the mineralogy of the site, which produced one of the major results that contributed to its selection. She also was on the team that designed the camera that will be the scientific eyes for Perseverance.

The Jezero Crater preserves evidence of a time when rivers flowed on Mars. The mission will take the next leap in space science by searching for signs of past life on the red planet. Not the Martians of comic-book science fiction, but, instead, ancient microbes may have lived in Mars’ rivers, lakes and swamps billions of years ago.

More information about the mission and Horgan’s contributions are available online.