Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Raina Gough Joins NASA’s Mars Rover Science Team

NASA has selected CU Boulder researcher Raina Gough to join the Mars Curiosity rover mission as a participating scientist; she hopes to expand the science team’s search for evidence of liquid water.

In the laboratory, Dr. Gough and her colleagues have shown that a process called deliquescence may create briny liquids under conditions likely to exist, in certain times and places, on Mars’ surface.

“It would be very cool to see if I can help the Mars rover see what I’ve seen in the lab,” she said. Although certain features on Mars appear water-like, such as ephemeral streaks running down hills, no instruments on the planet have “touched aqueous or liquid water,” Gough said. “To help the rover confirm that would be exciting.”

Raina Gough in the lab at CU Boulder. Credit: Robin Strelow/CIRES

Gough, a research scientist who works with Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Margaret Tolbert, is one of six new Curiosity project scientists from around the world. Other new participants from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the University of Michigan, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Pennsylvania State University join about 120 other scientists who are already part of the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates Curiosity.

The Curiosity rover, which landed on the red planet in 2012, houses the Mars Science Laboratory, which includes an advanced suite of instruments designed to analyze the geology of the planet, as written into the composition and structure of its rocks and soils.

Read more about Dr. Gough’s work in Spheres, a CIRES magazine.

CIRES at CU Boulder has partnered with NOAA since 1967.

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