Curtin University researcher has Mars in her sights

Katarina Miljkovic.
Katarina Miljkovic.

A CURTIN University researcher, who is the only Australian involved in a ground-breaking mission to Mars, has been recognised with a prestigious fellowship for women in science.

Planetary scientist Katarina Miljkovic has received a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship for her work in NASA’s Mars InSight Mission.

The mission involves a Mars-bound robotic lander investigating the contents under Mars’ surface to help scientists understand the formation and evolution of the red planet and similar planets. The lander was launched on May 5 and will reach Mars on November 26.

Dr Miljkovic said InSight was a different mission than any that had journeyed to Mars before and she took immense pride being a part of it.

“We’re sending a different type of spacecraft, which will observe the interior,” she said.

A seismometer will listen to tectonic activity and a heat probe will measure temperature and heat flow at the surface.

“The experiment will measure the precise location of Martian rotation, so it can infer what kind of core structure Mars has,” she said.

During the mission, Dr Miljkovic’s role is to examine the seismometer data and inspect the impact cratering.