Current Abstract

March 10, 2020 Dinner Meeting Abstract

Mars 2020: Seeking Signs of Ancient Life on Mars

Presented by: Dr. Sarah Milkovich, planetary geologist and systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


For hundreds of years, the idea of an inhabited Mars has captured our imaginations, but our first close-up view of Mars showed it to be a cold, barren desert. For decades, NASA has been exploring Mars with a fleet of spacecraft to understand the role of water in its history and look for areas that in the past could have supported life. This work has paved the way for the upcoming Mars 2020 rover – which will search for clues concerning the existence of life itself on Mars in the past.


Dr. Sarah Milkovich is a planetary geologist and systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she currently works on the Mars 2020 Rover. Sarah specializes in the science operations of robotic spacecraft, bridging the science and engineering teams. She has previously worked on the Mars Phoenix Lander, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft at Saturn, the Curiosity rover, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. She has served as Investigation Scientist for the HiRISE camera on MRO and the UVIS instrument on Cassini. Sarah has won JPL and NASA team awards for her efforts to return the best possible science within spacecraft engineering constraints, as well as the JPL Bruce Murray Award for Excellence in Education and Public Engagement. She holds a B.S. in planetary science from Caltech, and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from Brown University in planetary geology with studies of ice on Mars, and volcanoes on Mercury.

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