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Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission has an Alberta connection

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – A professor at the University of Alberta is one of the scientists working on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission.

Chris Herd says it has been a life-long dream to be a part of something like this.

“When I was 13, I got really interested in geology because my dad is a geologist, and then I thought wouldn’t it be awesome to study the geology of another planet,” Herd said.

He made it his goal to be there when samples come back from Mars.

“So here we are, we have now landed on Mars, and this is the first tangible step in that process of collecting, choosing, and then eventually bringing back samples from Mars.”

Herd’s team, which includes about 15 people, oversees coordinating the collection of core samples.

“One of my jobs along with my colleagues who are on a team as well is to decide where on Mars we are going to sample, cause this rover, unlike any other rover before it has the capability of drilling these rock cores and sealing them up in tubes and carrying them along.”

The rover will be dropping them on the red planet’s surface for an eventual return to earth at a later date.

Herd says he is on the team, which includes over 400 scientists, because of his previous work on martian meteorites.

“We are going to apply the different tools, the instruments that are onboard the rover to explore the area and narrow down those locations where we want to take samples. Most importantly, the best possible thing for the samples is that they have context, so we will be able to have all information, including the chemistry and mineralogy of the rocks nearby where we take the sample.”

He adds the mission is an incredible thing to be apart of and watching the landing was astounding.

The plan is to have samples return to earth in 2031.