NASA scientist with ties to the Big Island gave students an inside scoop on Mars rover mission

NASA scientist with ties to the Big Island gave students an inside scoop on Mars rover mission
Parker School alum Jesse Tarnas recently gave insight to current students at his alma mater about what NASA is looking for on Mars. (Source: Parker School Hawaii)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of the scientists who helped land the Perseverance Rover on Mars spoke with current students at his high school alma mater on the Big Island about the mission.

Dr. Jesse Tarnas, a Parker School alumnus, works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a member of the science team for the Perseverance Mars rover mission. He earned his Ph.D. in planetary science from Brown University.

As a member of the NASA rover science team, Tarnas played an active role in collecting and interpreting the new surface data from the rover to help determine the best ways to traverse the red planet.

He worked in creating a path that would allow the rover to easily navigate the terrain and potentially find evidence of fossilized life.

In a 40-minute virtual presentation titled “The Search for Alien Life and a Home on Mars,” Tarnas discussed the Mars 2020 mission, including details of the rover landing, the ongoing exploration of Mars and how this mission will change the future of science and humanity.

“What Mars rover mission is doing is looking for signs of ancient life. And, what we look forward to is to inhabit Mars is figuring out creative ways to harness resources there for humans to survive in more challenging environments than earth,” Tarnas said.

Tarnas also spoke of his time at Parker and how it influenced his journey to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He offered students the following advice: “Work hard, don’t listen to people who doubt you, seek out mentors, find what inspires you and pursue that full throttle.”

His presentation was part of Parker School’s Big Island Science series which aims to make science exciting and accessible by exploring the natural world on Hawaii Island.

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