Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences News

Professor Part of NASA Team Preparing for 2020 Mars Mission

Jeffrey-Moersch

Over the next five years, Jeffrey Moersch will be traveling to faraway places—from the Arctic to the Chilean desert—in a quest to learn more about a place even farther away—Mars. The earth and planetary sciences professor is part of a new NASA-funded research team helping prepare for the Mars 2020 rover mission. The interdisciplinary team is a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and is one of seven to receive a five-year grant of about $8 million.

Tooth Serves as Evidence of 220 Million-Year-old Attack

Reconstruction of the interaction of large land predators (rauisuchid) and aquatic predator (phytosaur) about 210 million years ago based on research by a joint team of University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech researchers. Christopher Hayes, a freshman at Virginia Tech, composed the drawing.

At the beginning of the age of dinosaurs, gigantic reptiles—distant relatives of modern crocodiles—ruled the earth. Some lived on land and others in water and it was thought they didn’t much interact. But a tooth found by a UT researcher in the thigh of one of these ancient animals is challenging this belief.