Five women who are part of the perseverance Mars 2020 project

NASA's Perseverance Mars 2020 Rover Mission heads to the red planet to search for signs of life .

Katie Stack Morgan

Five women are participating in NASA's Perseverance Mars 2020 project. / Photo: youtube.com/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Woman Post | Maria Lourdes Zimmermann

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Leer en español: Cinco mujeres que hacen parte del proyecto perseverance Mars 2020

Humanity's most sophisticated rover launched with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on July 30 on an Atlas V United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in a sucessful process. 

The mission's goal is to search for signs of microscopic life on Mars, which can provide information about its history, explore the diverse geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater, and demonstrate key technologies that will help humans prepare for future human and robotic exploration. 

A group of men and women have been an important part of this mission and behind them are stories of perseverance. NASA has recognized the work of five women on the Perseverance rover astrobiology mission. Who are they?

Katie Stack Morgan

Katie, is a Doctor of Geology, a researcher in Martian sedimentology, stratigraphy and orbital geological mapping at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her research focuses on the sedimentary rock record of Mars, using orbital and moving image data to understand the evolution of ancient processes on the red planet's surface.

Katie has been a member of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) science team since 2012 and is currently a mission-funded scientist. Katie is also a Deputy Scientist for the 2020 Rover Mars Mission Project.

Regarding the Perseverance project Katie explains that: "The instruments are well adapted to look for things we call biosignatures, signs of the ancient life of Mars."

"Our landing site to study Martian rocks is the Jezero crater" explains the scientist, the really exciting thing about Jezero is that it has a beautifully preserved delta and from there we will take the samples to understand what each sandstone in that place could tell us about Mars and its evolution ”, explains the NASA researcher in the new video series "Behind the spacecraft".

Her passion for geology has led her to study the red rocks of Mars, and her ambition is to search for signs of ancient microbial life with great perseverance.

Moo Stricker

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Moo has a BA in Physics from Hampto University and a Ph.D. from Drexel University, in mechanical engineering with a concentration in thermal fluid science.

Her current projects include the development of plasma sterilization methodologies and additional sterilization capabilities. She is also the Planetary Protection Lead for the Mars 2020 Mission and is involved with the InSight Mission.

Moo Stricker's job is to make sure the rover is as clean as possible before landing on Mars. This is important, because if the mission detects signs of past microbial life, scientists will have to be sure of the type of germs they are studying and their origin.

"It is really important that we send a rover that is clean and we make sure that it will not contaminate Mars and that everything we bring is really from there," explains Moo Stricker.

Heather Bottom

Heather is a former professional dancer who is now helping to choreograph the rover's launch and its trip to Mars. As a systems engineer, she makes sure that all the complicated parts work together as a cohesive whole.

She has a master's degree in space engineering, after graduation Heather says she took a job at SpaceX to learn about the commercial space industry with hands-on experience. Having learned about the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) through previous NASA internships, her experience allowed her to be a systems engineer on the Mars 2020 Space Mission according to NASA.

She recently conducted the first test of the system on the Mars 20204 spacecraft. “With a team of more than 30 people, we spent more than two weeks testing the spacecraft launching, cruising and landing on Mars in scenarios where things went as planned and scenarios where something unexpected or unintended happened ”, Heather tells a NASA publication about her experience.

Michelle Tomey Colizzi

Michelle is a mechanical engineer and helped assemble the spacecraft in a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), focusing on the aeroshell, a capsule that will keep Perseverance safe from the ravages of space travel during its interplanetary journey to Mars. .

“My role at Mars 2020 is assembly, test and launch operations,” explains Michelle Tomey.

Diana Trujillo

Diana made her way through college cleaning houses, but now, through her work with the rover's robotic arm, she's helping to discover if there could have been ancient life on Mars.

She has a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.

Since 2008, she has worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, contributing to both human and robotic space missions. She currently serves as the activity leader of the surface sampling system and tactical uplink leader, responsible for ensuring the sampling arm and other activities of the robot's maintenance. 

Diana is responsible for creating and testing operational strategies for the use of the strategy on Mars, she works with robotic hands that can collect materials from the surface of the planet in order to understand if there was ever life on it. 

“I feel happy to think that I am part of a group that can change history” she said. She also explains how she is a Hispanic member who represents a group of people to whom she wants to bring a message of inspiration so that other Latinos understand that with dedication they can be part of important missions in NASA.

Perseverance will make discoveries that will make human beings rethink what Mars was and what is known today about the red planet. Reconstructing the history of Mars is the task of inspiring minds who will provide human answers to life on other planets.