Climate & Space is very pleased to announce that department alum Dr. Shannon Curry (PhD, 2013) has been named Principal Investigator of the NASA Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission.
Dr. Curry, a planetary scientist and deputy assistant director of planetary science at the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley, succeeds Dr. Bruce Jakovsky, who led the mission from its inception.
The MAVEN mission, a part of the Mars Scout program, was launched in November, 2013 and arrived at Mars just under a year later, in September, 2014. The mission’s directive is to explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.
Prof. Michael Liemohn, Dr. Curry’s faculty advisor during her time at Climate & Space, recalls her work. “Shannon studied Mars ion escape to deep space with me, graduating in April 2013. She had an excellent series of numerical modeling papers exploring the physics of this phenomenon…”
After graduation, Dr. Curry took a position as a postdoctoral researcher with MAVEN Mission Scientist Janet Luhmann at the University of California Berkeley. MAVEN launched later that year. “Shannon has been a vital member of the mission team,” said Prof. Liemohn. “She has done very well for herself at Berkeley, and I am extremely proud of her accomplishments.”
MAVEN has helped scientists to understand the history of the Martian atmosphere and climate. data are used to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Martian atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of the planet’s atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability. While providing unique scientific results as the first mission dedicated to exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars, MAVEN has also taken on the role of replaying data from NASA’s rovers on the Martian surface.
Read more about Dr. Curry’s appointment: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2021/nasa-mars-mission-begins-a-new-chapter-of-science-with-a-new-leader