an Explore Mars Event

May 17-19, 2022

The George Washington University

Washington D.C.


Michael Hecht

MIT Haystack Observatory | Principal Investigator of MOXIE

Trained as an experimental scientist, I constantly seek to combine my expertise in development of instrumentation with the scientific explorations that use that instrumentation. In addition to my role as Associate Director of Research Management at Haystack, I lead the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) on board the NASA Perseverance Mars rover, and I am part of the management team for the Event Horizon Telescope that images supermassive black holes from Earth. It’s hard to imagine two more different space enterprises!

As Principal Investigator for the MOXIE payload on NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover (Perseverance) mission, my job is to lead the MOXIE Science Team through operations on Mars, analysis of data from the mission and from our models in the laboratory at Haystack, and communication of the important findings to the scientific community and to the public. MOXIE’s job is to demonstrate that we can reliably convert carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars, and to learn all we can about how to extend that design to a full-scale system that will someday provide liquid oxygen for a rocket that will lift our astronauts off the surface of Mars to rendezvous with their ride home.

As the Deputy Project Director of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, I help lead the project through an annual cycle of observations and data analysis, which continually improves our understanding of black holes and tests key principles of general relativity and stellar evolution.

In my spare time I like to hike, bicycle, and play klezmer music on the clarinet.