NASA has appointed planetary scientist Shannon Curry to serve as principal investigator for the space agency's first mission to study the atmosphere of Mars.
She replaces Bruce Jakosky, who led the orbital operations of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission for seven years and will continue to work as a member of the mission team, NASA said Thursday.
Curry has been with the MAVEN science team since 2013 and is the deputy assistant director of planetary science at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. The majority of her career was focused on exploring Mars and how the Sun’s changing activities affect the Martian atmosphere.
Before she obtained her doctoral degree in planetary physics, Curry was a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft for the MAVEN mission.
“She knows how science and engineering work together,” Jakosky said, adding that he has observed how Curry gathers data during meetings to make better-informed decisions.
The new MAVEN leader has outlined the next chapter of the mission, emphasizing that one of the team’s main goals is to study the Red Planet's atmosphere under extreme conditions.