A Navajo Engineer Talks About Life at NASA, and the Rover Set to Land on Mars
February 19, 2021
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.