Study level

  • PhD


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr David Flannery
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science
Dr Patrick Hayman
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science

External supervisors

  • Dr Ken Williford, NASA JPL


NASA's newest Mars rover, Perseverance, has just arrived on the red planet. Tasked with searching for ancient life in the geological record of a ~4 billion-year-old crater lake, the mission science team must use our only available analogue - the Earth - as their guide to exploration.

Research activities

You will perform extensive geological fieldwork in order to model a 3 billion-year-old river and lake system in remote Western Australia.

Facies analysis, including the taphonomy of microbial biosignatures, will yield insights into the nature of early-evolving ecosystems on Earth and guide the search for life on Mars. You may have an opportunity to join a global research team and influence the operations of spacecraft on Mars.


Study of this ancient habitable environment will inform the development of exploration strategies for Mars rovers.

Skills and experience

A combination of field, laboratory and desktop studies will be undertaken. This is part of a larger collaborative project.

A strong interest in the subject and a background in field geology is required. You will need to work independently.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact the supervisor for more information.