Prof receives $1.3 million NASA grant to study possible link to ET life

As the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses Mars rovers to search for extraterrestrial life on the red planet, CSUN biology professor Rachel Mackelprang aids the search for signs of life in the frozen soil on Earth. Mackelprang and her collaborators at the United States Geological Survey were awarded a three-year, $1.3-million NASA grant in summer 2015 to study the connection between frozen soil and the possibility of life on frozen galactic planets and comets.

“[NASA] is interested in how life survives in extreme conditions on Earth,” she said. “[This is] the type of life that may survive on extraterrestrial bodies.” By looking at permafrost, which is ground that has been frozen for at least 5,000 years, Mackelprang will analyze how organisms on a frozen terrain can survive, which is similar to what NASA is studying on frozen planets and comets.