Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath

Professor of Geoscience
Expertise: Mars geochemistry, Water-rock interactions, Astrobiology, Snow dynamics


Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath is an aqueous geochemist and astrobiologist who investigates interactions between water and minerals, and the impacts of life on those interactions. She and her team use a combination of field work, laboratory experiments, and modeling to investigate signatures of aqueous alteration and life, the rates at which water-rock interactions occur, and how they differ on Earth and on other planets such as Mars. Their work helps understand chemical weathering, water chemistry, nutrient release, the formation of soils, and potential signatures of life on Earth and Mars.

Hausrath and her team also explore snow dynamics, particularly the interactions between snow algae, microorganisms, and minerals in the nutrient-poor environment present in snow, which may also be an analog to Mars.

Hausrath serves on NASA's Returned Sample Science Board, which offers scientific input into aspects of the upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission.


  • Dual-Title Ph.D. Program in Geosciences and Astrobiology, Penn State University
  • Sc.B Geology-Chemistry, Brown University

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Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath In The News

K.L.A.S. T.V. 8 News Now
Exploring Mars might be a dream for students interested in careers in space. For Libby Hausrath, it’s an exciting point on a career path she chose years ago.
In the summer of 2020, NASA launched Percy (full name, Perseverance), a car-sized rover, as part of the Mars 2020 mission. For seven long months, Percy traveled through the vacuum of space, drifting among the stars toward the Red Planet with a small robotic helicopter fondly dubbed Ginny (Ingenuity) in tow.
Tech Explorist
To find evidence of prehistoric microbial life and to better understand the processes that formed the surface of Mars, scientists wish to analyze Martian samples with high-tech lab equipment on Earth. The majority of the samples will be made up of rock. Still, scientists are also interested in studying regolith, or broken rock and dust, not only for what it can reveal about Mars’ geological processes and environment but also help astronauts prepare for some of the difficulties they will encounter. Regolith is fascinating to scientists and engineers because it can impact everything from solar panels to spacesuits.
More than a year and a half after its first flight on Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter has set a new record.

Articles Featuring Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath

An image of rocks snapped by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover
Research | September 26, 2022

UNLV geoscientists Libby Hausrath and Arya Udry dish on latest Perseverance rover data, and provide peek at upcoming research.

people doing research
Research | December 27, 2021

UNLV researchers made international headlines this year with their discoveries. Here's a roundup of some of our top stories of 2021.

A researcher working in the lab of the Chambers-Grundy Center for Transformative Neuroscience
Campus News | October 7, 2021

A collection of news stories featuring collaboration and reflection at UNLV.