Australian woman leads NASA`s search for life on Mars

Abigail Allwood, an Australian geologist becomes the first woman to lead an important venture: NASA’s search for life on Mars. Named one of the world’s top 10 scientific minds in 2006, she is considered to be ``extraordinary brilliant``.

Last Updated: Aug 05, 2014, 00:28 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ritu Singh

Sydney: Abigail Allwood, an Australian geologist becomes the first woman to lead an important venture: NASA’s search for life on Mars. Named one of the world’s top 10 scientific minds in 2006, she is considered to be ``extraordinary brilliant``.

Dr Allwood, 41, who hails from Brisbane is the first non-US citizen to be given this honour.The world leading geologist was announced as one of seven principal science investigators in NASA`s next mission to the red planet - the 2020 Mars Rover program.

Abigail who works at NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California`s Pasadena, Sydney said that she was proud to be the first female principal investigator on a Mars mission.
`I`m pretty chuffed about that,` she said.

`I`d like to pave the way for other women to do the same thing.

`It`s no longer an old boys club.`

The announcement was made on Friday for the next Mars rover - scheduled for 2020 - where science instruments will be sent to the planet to select a collection of rock and soil samples that will be stored for potential return to Earth in the future.

The samples with then by analysed which will help determine whether life existed on Mars and further inform planning for human exploration on the planet.
Dr Allwood will be responsible for the Planetary Instrument X-ray Lithochemistry - also known as PIXL - which is an instrument that will use X-rays to inspect the chemistry of rock samples.