Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Frontiers in Science Talks

The Frontiers in Science series are ‘live’ conversations with scientists, engineers and other experts. It is a public service of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows. Fellows are appointed by the Laboratory Director in recognition of sustained outstanding contributions and exceptional promise for continued professional achievement. All talks are open to the public and free of charge.




The NASA Perseverance Mars Rover: Looking for signs of past life

Nina Lanza, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Mars has long held a special place in the human imagination as a sci-fi world inhabited by Martians. The real Mars is very different from what we imagined but our observations suggest that life could have existed there in the distant past.

Watch planetary scientist Nina Lanza discuss the role of NASA’s Perseverance rover that will look for signs of ancient life on Mars and also collect samples to bring back to Earth on a future return mission for the first time.

In this virtual talk attended by over 500 people on October 7, 2020, Lanza explains how the instruments aboard the rover called “SuperCam” will uniquely identify geological material, and the process for carefully retrieving and preparing samples of rock.

She also shares some insights on what it's like as part of a team to remotely operate the current Curiosity rover that is looking for signs of habitability on the red planet.

The discussion covers a wide range of topics including the contributions of Los Alamos scientists and engineers to the Perseverance and Curiosity rover programs, Lanza’s career path and advice to students interested in pursuing a career in space science.