Mars Research Group

Welcome to the Mars Research Group at NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Space Science. The group is led by Dimitra Atri and K. R. Sreenivasan. The group is interested in the atmosphere of Mars, its surface and subsurface chemistry, and exploring its present and past habitability. The main research areas are:

  • Mars atmosphere: Investigating how space weather impacts the Martian atmosphere. Using a combination of numerical modeling and data from space missions, the goal is to understand space weather-induced changes in atmospheric chemistry and escape rates. Data from the UAE’s Hope mission will be used to complement ongoing research with NASA’s MAVEN and Curiosity missions. AI-based techniques for data analysis are being developed from multiple missions to take advantage of large datasets and obtain a comprehensive picture of the planet. 
  • Martian surface and subsurface: an experimental facility to simulate Martian conditions and study the chemistry of the planet based on data from Mars rovers is being established. The Martian subsurface environment will be simulated, the target of ESA/Roscosmos’s ExoMars 2022 mission. The goal is to investigate the present and past habitability of the planet. 
  • Crewed missions to Mars: All major spacefaring nations, including the UAE (Mars 2117) are seriously thinking about crewed missions to the planet in future. The group is investigating the impact of radiation on astronaut health using a combination of numerical modeling and medical data. The group will also work toward developing sustainable exploration strategies for such missions.
  • Mars-analog environments: The goal is to gain insights into potential life on Mars by studying Mars-like environments on Earth by (1) exploring Mars-analog sites, and (2) studying the microbial response in Mars simulation chambers in the laboratory. The group will investigate the effect of multiple extreme conditions of salinity, temperature, desiccation and irradiation on microbial communities in the Arabian gulf.

Group Researchers:

Ejaz Ahmed, Dimitra Atri, Kevin Canales, Sriram Devata, Dattaraj Dhuri, Xinli Gu, Marieh Handawi, Zurab Jashi, Caitlin MacArthur, Mia Mancuso, Pance Naumov, Chirag Rathi, K.R. Sreenivasan, Paulina Umansky, Matthew Varona   

Collaborators: Axel Brandenburg, Inge Loes ten Kate, Bhala S., Andre Antunes, Marta Simoes, Konstantin Herbst


Image of Mars taken by the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) on board the Hope probe on February 10th, 2021


Students and researchers interested in working with the Mars Research Group should contact for more information.   

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