ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 17, 2021) – After having traveled nearly 292.5 million miles, NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft is just about set to touch down on Mars. The landing, scheduled for about 3 p.m. on Thursday, is the culmination of a seven-month trip from Earth and nearly eight years of planning.

When the Perseverance rover lands, it will be the most sophisticated piece of equipment ever to interact with the Martian surface. Its task, to search for ancient signs of life, includes a first-ever robotic helicopter – Ingenuity -- dramatically expanding the mission’s search capabilities.

UAlbany faculty experts are available to discuss the mission and future prospects to study of Mars.

Faculty experts include:

Kevin Knuth, associate professor of physics, College of Arts and Sciences: Knuth’s areas of expertise includes cyberphysics and robotics, exoplanet studies and the characterization of interstellar organic molecules.

Mustafa Aksoy, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Aksoy’s areas of expertise include remote geophysical sensing using microwave technologies and electromagnetic theory. Aksoy recently received one of NASA’s early career awards to study early-stage space technologies. Aksoy’s focus is on radiometers onboard spacecrafts, which can measure physical and thermal properties of planetary surfaces.

Chinwe Ekenna, assistant professor of computer science, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Ekenna’s research centers on intelligent motion planning applied to robotics and proteins. She has explored intelligent adaptation of robotic motion planning to improve planning time and the utilization of available methods to improve overall quality of results. Her research interest includes Robotics, Machine learning, and Computational Biology.



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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.