AAC Monthly Meeting

  • 11 Jul 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Kika Silva Pla Planetarium & Zoom


Registration is closed

Our speaker will be attending in person, please try to attend in person too!


7:00 - 7:15 General Meeting & Announcements
7:15 - 7:30 Short topic presentation by a club member

7:30 - 7:45 Refreshment break

7:45 - Public Presentation

Speaker: Dr. Amy Williams

Assistant Professor of Geology

University of Florida


NASA Rovers Curiosity and Perseverance Exploration of Mars


The Mars rover Curiosity explored a valley called Glen Torridon on the lower slopes of a sedimentary mountain within Gale crater between January 2019 and January 2021. The rocks within this shallow valley are part of a sequence of rock layers whose mineral composition could imply a transition from a wetter to drier environment more than 3-billion years ago. This presentation describes this exploration campaign designed to understand the local geology, document evidence of past climate change, and investigate if the ancient environments may have been amenable to biological activity. Curiosity found that many rocks were deposited in the bottom of a lake, but also that river deposits occur frequently in this area, suggesting that the environmental conditions changed through time. Curiosity observed evidence for multiple cycles of water interacting with the sediments that chemically changed the elemental and mineralogical compositions of the rock layers. Curiosity collected 11 drill holes over the course of the campaign and found abundant clay minerals, as predicted, as well as a wide variety of organic molecules, suggesting that the ancient environment contained many of the necessary conditions to support life.

About the Speaker:

Amy earned her bachelor of science degree in Environmental Science from Furman University in 2007 before completing her master of science degree in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of New Mexico in 2009. She then attended the University of California, Davis, for her PhD, where she first began working with NASA's Curiosity rover. After earning her PhD in 2014, Amy accepted a postdoctoral research position at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where she continued working with the Curiosity rover as a member of the SAM instrument team to explore the distribution of organic molecules on Mars’ surface. In 2015 Amy joined the geoscience faculty at Towson University in Towson, Maryland as an assistant professor. In 2018 she joined the geoscience faculty at the University of Florida, and in 2020 she began working with the NASA Perseverance rover science team as a Participating Scientist. She has received several NASA group achievement awards for her work with the Curiosity rover team, received a nomination for the 2017 Maryland Academy of Sciences Outstanding Young Scientist Award, and was a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow.

Research Interests

Dr. Williams’ research focuses on the interaction between microbial life, the geochemical environment, and the rock record on Earth, and how to recognize habitable environments and potentially preserved microbial life on Mars and the outer world moons.

© Alachua Astronomy Club, Inc.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software