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Prof. Tanja Bosak speaks with Science reporter Eric Hand about how scientists plan to study rock samples from Mars for clues as to whether the planet once had a magnetic field and for signs of ancient life, such as the tough lipid molecules that can form cell walls. “You hope for an outline of a cell,” she says. “You will never find peptides and proteins, but lipids can persist.”

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Photo of Tanja Bosak posing in front of an ancient rock

Field geology at a distance

As part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, Professor Tanja Bosak helps determine the best samples to bring home for clues about life 4 billion years ago.