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Wanda Davis
Mars Analogue Site Scout
Spaceward bound Mojave 2007, Namibia 2010

Wanda Davis' job is to find places on Earth that are as close as possible to Mars, as well as some other planets in our solar system and their moons where there might be a possibility of liquid water. She is a planetary scientist working for NASA, based at the NASA Ames Research Centre in California. "We first need to understand as much as possible about the planet or moon we are focusing on, including its geology, geo-chemistry, geo-morphology and its atmosphere. We then look at places on Earth with some similar physical characteristics."

Antarctica is both very cold and very dry, making it possibly most similar to Mars. However, some of the hot deserts on Earth, for example the Atacama Desert in Chile, are even drier. "We are interested in this part of the Namibia, because it is a fog-shrouded desert," Wanda adds. "We want to understand whether the organisms here get their moisture from the air, or if it precipitates and the organisms then acquire liquid water from the base rocks. We also test out the instruments that are going to be on the spaceship in extreme environments in the field at these analogue sites."

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: June 2011