Life on Mars? Exploring Gale and Jezero

Name of applicant

Jens Frydenvang


University of Copenhagen


DKK 2,973,622



Type of grant

Reintegration Fellowships


I will provide a strong Danish presence on two NASA flagship missions, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and Mars 2020 mission. On the MSL mission in Gale crater, I will take on a central role in the efforts to explore the 5 km tall Mount Sharp in the center of Gale crater - particularly seeking to constrain for how long a lake existed in Gale crater ~3 billion years ago. On the Mars 2020 mission, this project will enable my full participation in both the preparations and the first year of operations in Jezero crater as we seek to find evidence for whether life ever arose on Mars.


Mars is our closest planetary neighbour, and evidence from the MSL mission show that it too had an environment early in its history that was habitable to life as we know it. As such, Mars is a prime goal to answer the age-old question of whether Earth is the only place that life arose - or whether life 'happens' whenever the circumstances allow it.


The MSL and Mars 2020 missions are part of the most expensive group of missions supported by NASA, and the rovers sent to Mars are the most advanced and capable robots ever sent outside Earth. These rovers, and the framework of these missions, are the tools used to undertake this interplanetary effort.

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