NIU professor gets grant from NASA to study Mars - – Rockford’s News Leader

NIU professor gets grant from NASA to study Mars


A geography professor at Northern Illinois University is getting some help from NASA to discover just how much water helped shape the surface of Mars.

Orbiting satellites and rovers on the red planet's surface have given scientists multiple examples of water on the surface of Mars, such as channels, delta deposits, and shoreline features. In response, NIU Presidential Research Professor Wei Luo is hoping to address just how much water was there.

Luo will receive a multi-year grant of $291,000 to investigate, and hopes to increase understanding of the water's source and its evolution and cycling. He will collaborate with Professor Alan Howard of the University of Virginia and Professor Joon Heo of Yonsei University in South Korea. Luo also plans to recruit a graduate student from NIU to work on the team.

Luo and his colleagues will form computer algorithms and apply them to the newest digital elevation model data on Mars.

"The results of this new project will provide independent data to compare with the global water inventory derived from other sources," Luo said. "We also hope to further test the northern ocean hypothesis."

Luo said having a better idea of how much water was on Mars will help figure out if the planet had a full hydrologic cycle like Earth's.

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