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Students research the next Mars landing site

Students and faculty stand next to their map of the Mars 2020 landing site. From left to right: Beau Boring, Linda Kah, Rose Borden, Russell Spaulding II, Taryn Hicks, Emily Shaver, Keenan Golder, Noah Miklusicak, James Atkins. Photo by: Stephanie Drumheller-Horton

As part of her role on the Mars 2020 science team, Prof. Linda Kah was tasked with mapping a portion of Jezero Crater, which is the landing site for NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars. Prof. Kah turned this responsibility into an opportunity to teach students about geologic mapping and for them to make a meaningful contribution to NASA’s work. For the work, the mapping area was divided into sections and each student was assigned sections to map. Each week students and faculty to met to discuss what they were seeing in the satellite images and how they would interpret their observations. Once the mapping was complete, the map data were sent to NASA to be reviewed by the Mars 2020 team. Meanwhile, students began to formulate questions that could be answered through analysis of the satellite images. The students submitted 3 abstracts to the 2020 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and a 4th abstract was submitted by Prof. Kah.