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NASA names a mountain on Mars as a tribute to the Mexican scientist

Rafael Navarro González dedicated his life to science; Now the space agency pays tribute to him after he passed away from COVID-19.

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April
6, 2021

4 min read

This article was translated using AI technologies from our Spanish edition. Errors can occur as a result of this process.

Rafael Navarro González was a leading Mexican researcher at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences (ICN) at the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He helped develop the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) kit, a portable laboratory that analyzes the chemistry of rocks, soil and air in space. Unfortunately, he lost his life after catching COVID-19 in January this year. For this reason, NASA will name a mountain on Mars in his honor.

Rafael Navarro was a leader in the study of astrobiology and identified the role of volcanic lightning in the origin of life on earth.

# BoletínUNAM The name of the famous Mexican researcher and #ExpertoUNAM Rafael Navarro was immortalized after @NASA decided to identify one of the mountains on Mars by his name. #GOYA! > https://t.co/JWeyQK4jv7 #PontePumaPonte pic.twitter.com/4687vZZZon

– UNAM (@UNAM_MX) April 5, 2021

According to the UNAM Gazette, Paul Mahaffy, who heads the NASA group and is the main sponsor of the mountain naming initiative, is located northwest of Gale Crater near Mount Sharp. This is where the curiosity robot works, which arrived on the red planet in 2012.

“We have decided that this is a great way to honor our co-worker and friend Rafael Navarro González. There were three options for objects, we talked to Fabiola (her Epsosa), her daughter and her brother about it and they decided it could be. We know that the official names for objects in space are given by the International Astronomical Union, but we believe that with this initiative the name can be formed more quickly, ”says the scientist.

The region on the red planet is rich in clays and mineral sulfates that can help better understand changes in climate and current conditions. The location will be crucial for curiosity missions, explains Ashwin Vasavada, a scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory.

"Rafael was a good friend and committed scientist and was a privilege and an honor to the Mars exploration team who have worked with him for several years," added NASA's specialist Goddard Space Flight Center, Mahaffy.

Image: UNAM Gazette

His career at UNAM and the Sciences

Rafael graduated from UNAM's Faculty of Science, then went on to graduate from the University of Meryland, USA, but his love for the study house made him return to Mexico to give back a little bit of knowledge.

According to AnimalMX, Rafel Navarro and other scientists were winners after proposing sample analysis from Mars to NASA. You have been working on the project since 2004. He studied the Pico de Orizaba, which could serve as a reference for Mars if the atmosphere were to "terraform", ie make it a place where people can breathe.

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