hero image
Amy J. Williams - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Amy J. Williams Amy J. Williams

Assistant Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Amy J. Williams is searching for habitable environments and microbial life on Mars and outer world moons.

Biography

Amy J. Williams is an assistant professor of geology in the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Amy has been a member of the NASA Curiosity rover science team since 2009 and currently works with the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument team to explore the distribution of organic molecules on Mars’ surface. She also is on the NASA Perseverance rover science team as a Participating Scientist. Her research focuses on the interaction between microbial life, the geochemical environment and the rock record on Earth, and how to recognize habitable environments and potentially preserved microbial life on Mars and the outer world moons.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Organic Molecules on Mars

Curiosity Rover

Habitable Environments on Mars

Microbial Life on Mars

Mars

Mars Missions

NASA Mars Missions

Persverance Rover

Media Appearances (8)

Below Mars' surface, life could endure for a shocking amount of time

Mashable  online

2022-10-29

Even the toughest microbe couldn't survive for long on Mars' tortured desert ground. Deadly radiation from the cosmos pummels the surface. The temperature averages minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the profoundly dry, sparse atmosphere, a cup of water would immediately vaporize.

view more

Curiosity’s decade of discovery on Mars

NPR WMFE  online

2022-08-16

A robotic explorer on Mars is celebrating 10 years on the red planet. NASA’s Curiosity rover launched from Cape Canaveral in 2011 and landed on Mars in August 2012. Its mission is to explore the geology of Mars and determine if the planet ever contained conditions favorable to life in a region called Gale Crater. Despite a decade on the planet — there’s no sign of the robot slowing down.

view more

NASA's Mars Life Explorer mission would dig deep to hunt for Red Planet life

Space  online

2022-07-11

Has life ever existed on Mars? Could it still exist there today? These questions intrigue scientists and the public alike. And digging into them could require exactly that — going underground on Mars.

view more

Could people breathe the air on Mars?

The Conversation  online

2022-05-16

From the Curious Kids series: Let’s suppose you were an astronaut who just landed on the planet Mars. What would you need to survive? For starters, here’s a short list: Water, food, shelter – and oxygen.

view more

Is there life beyond Earth? Amy Williams '07 Seeks Answers

Furman University  online

2021-10-11

Does life exist elsewhere in the universe? It’s a question as old as time. And Amy Williams ’07 is trying to find the answer through her work with NASA’s Mars rover project.

view more

Mars rover images help UF scientist, NASA team narrow the search for ancient life

UF News  online

2021-10-07

Billions of years ago, a Martian river flowed with such force that it tumbled boulders in its path, strewing them out into its massive delta. University of Florida astrobiologist Amy Williams looked up from the bed of that ancient river to its rocky remnants, courtesy of the Mars Perseverance rover, which sends on-the-ground views of the red planet back to Williams and the rest of the NASA team.

view more

Mars Perseverance with Dr. Amy Williams

Launch Pad Astronomy  online

2021-02-21

The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, and advance the quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover will collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.

view more

Countdown to Mars: Dr. Amy Williams

NASA Astrobiology  online

2020-07-17

Professor AMY WILLIAMS from the Department of Geological Sciences was interviewed by NASA Astrobiology for its “Countdown to Mars”(opens in new tab) video series.

view more

Social

Articles (3)

Choosing the Right Tools for the Job: Life-Detection Payloads for Mars

Astrobiology Science Conference

Amy J. Williams, et al.

2022-05-20

With the exploration by the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers, and upcoming Mars Sample Return, we are developing a more nuanced understanding of Mars and its environmental history. These data can inform the search for life on Mars in several ways. Lessons learned from the instrument suites on these missions can inform next generation life-detection instruments that overcome Mars-specific environmental challenges (oxidation, radiation, deep-time diagenesis).

view more

Organic molecules revealed in Mars’s Bagnold Dunes by Curiosity’s derivatization experiment

Nature Astronomy

M. Millian, et al.

2021-11-01

The wet chemistry experiments on the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument on NASA’s Curiosity rover were designed to facilitate gas chromatography mass spectrometry analyses of polar molecules such as amino acids and carboxylic acids. Here we present the results of such a successful wet chemistry experiment on Mars on sand scooped from the Bagnold Dunes with the N-methyl-N-(tert-butyldimethylsilyl) trifluoroacetamide derivatization agent. No amino-acid derivatives were detected. However, chemically derivatized benzoic acid and ammonia were detected.

view more

Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars

Science

N. Mangold, et al.

2021-10-07

Observations from orbital spacecraft have shown that Jezero crater on Mars contains a prominent fan-shaped body of sedimentary rock deposited at its western margin. The Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in February 2021. We analyze images taken by the rover in the 3 months after landing.

view more

Media

Publications:

Documents:

Photos:

Amy J. Williams loading image

Videos:

Searching for life on Mars with Dr. Amy Williams

Audio/Podcasts:

Meet the astrobiologist and her students who are searching for life on Mars

Languages (1)

  • English