Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

A Navajo Engineer Talks About Life at NASA, and the Rover Set to Land on Mars


February 19, 2021

NASA mechanical engineer Aaron Yazzie (Diné). Yazzie works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Courtesy photo.

A NASA rover launched from Earth six months ago to collect rock core samples on Mars will make landing on a dry lakebed on the red planet this afternoon. The Perseverance Rover - the fifth robot NASA has launched since 1997 as part of a larger mission to understand whether life exists on Mars - has a name that holds significance for both the pandemic launch, and also for team members like Aaron Yazzie (Diné), one of just a handful of Native Americans working on the project.

The car-size Perseverance Rover will extract rock samples from Jezero Crater over the next two years. Yazzie, a mechanical engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Native News Online that when a meteorite hit the planet 3.5 billion years ago, there was a lake in the crater, meaning that core rock samples are likely to hold ancient rock information.


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