New Mexico scientists contribute to NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover mission

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A couple of New Mexicans had a hand in the successful landing of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Thursday.

Dr. Horton Newsom and Dr. Larry Crumpler are just a few of the many New Mexicans and UNM alumni scientists who are working on this incredible project.

“A combination of can’t believe it, and combination of well, now the real hard work starts," said Dr. Crumpler.

The two scientists worked a long time to develop spacecraft tools to function on Mars.

“It’s a place New Mexicans should feel right at home with,” Crumpler said.

“I always say Mars is like New Mexico, just more so,” he added.

Dr. Crumpler said the landscape of Mars closely resembles the land in western New Mexico.

The goal of the mission is to search for traces of ancient life.

“The whole mission is predicated on the desire to see if we can find microbial past life on Mars,” he said.

“Our pace of exploration is just continuing tremendously,” added Dr. Newsom.

Dr. Newsom said he hopes the collected samples can serve future scientists who pass through UNM.

“I’m hoping some day here at UNM we will have samples that were collected on Mars by Perseverance and the next generation of students and researchers here in New Mexico will work on these samples,” he said.

Perseverance’s mission will last at least one Mars year or about 687 Earth days.