One University of Cincinnati professor and two of his students are helping decide the direction for research on Mars involving the Perseverance rover.

Dr. Andy Czaja is an associate professor of in the university’s department of Geology. His role in the research includes helping to determine which samples to take from the Red Planet, and which ones to bring back to earth for further study.

“We can learn about the history of Mars, about the geologic history, what Mars was like billions of years ago early in its history, how much water it had and how long that water persisted on the surface, and why the planet changed from what we think it used to be,” Czaja said. “We used to think it looked more like earth. It was wetter and warmer and it’s now an extremely cold, dry planet.”

Two students, Desirée Baker and Andrea Corpolongo, are also part of this project, according to the university. Corpolongo is a doctoral candidate who is excited to be part of this research.

“Every time I log in and look at some of the pictures from Mars, I’m one of the first people to begin interpreting the rocks that we see,” she said.

The researchers are also looking for possible evidence of life on Mars.