The Croatian Diaspora

Naša in NASA: How Croatia Will Travel To Mars in 2021

By 5 January 2021
Thanks to a NASA team member of Croatian descent, Croatia will go to Mars in 2021
Thanks to a NASA team member of Croatian descent, Croatia will go to Mars in 2021 Original Mars surface photo by NASA

January 5, 2020 – In a recent interview, a member of a NASA team whose family heritage is Croatian, detailed how her current project will go to Mars in 2021

Croatians are not ones for invading other countries, let alone other planets. Although, that reputation doesn't take into consideration the can-do attitude of the Croatian diaspora.

It is by the hands of one member of the country's diaspora that Croatia will go to Mars in 2021. Sarah M. Milkovich is a planetary geologist of Croatian descent who works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her family is originally from a small village near the border with Slovenia. In an interview conducted over recent days by Vecernji List's Zoran Vitas, Milkovich detailed that the project she is working on right now is a vehicle that will this year visit Mars.

Milk.jpgSarah M. Milkovich

“I am currently working on the Perseverance rover that will land on Mars in 2021,” she told Vitas. “I’ve been working on Perseverance since 2013 including devising ways to collaborate between scientists and designers in terms of planning what the rover will do on the surface of Mars every day.”

“Perseverance will explore a location on Mars where we think a billion years ago a river flowed and formed a lake," said Milkovich, who was also interviewed by TCN's Iva Tatic in summer 2020. "Rivers and lakes on Mars disappeared long ago, so today Mars is an extremely cold and dry planet.”

“The shapes of the surface and the chemical composition of the rocks that we observed from a spacecraft in orbit and from previous rovers and landers on Mars tell us that a billion years ago, Mars was warmer and had adequate conditions to support life,” she went on to say to Mr Vitas. “With Perseverance, we intend to look in these rocks for evidence of ancient bacterial life. This will be very difficult, so we will also collect and store rock samples that we will leave on the surface. The intention is to make a joint mission of NASA and ESA to bring these samples to Earth (in order) to study them.”