What were you doing when Curiousity touched down on the surface of Mars?
For those of us in California, the exciting moments of the rover’s descent and landing took place just before bedtime (10:30pm) so we watched it live on the NASA website. Don’t know about you, but we found it hard to hold back the tears as we watched the scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory erupt into celebration after the picture perfect landing.
Science is a beautiful thing and we can’t wait to see what Curiosity sends back to Earth in the coming months and years.
In the meantime, let’s look back at Curiosity’s rover predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity, with Steven Squyres, the principle scientist behind the Mars Exploration Rover Project, who visited UC Berkeley in 2011. He shares his experiences working on the mind-boggling project and talks about the future of planetory exploration in these three programs:
Today, NASA announced the discovery of “dark, finger-like features” on Mars that could very well indicate the existence of flowing salt water on the red planet. The time-lapse series of images, taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), shows what looks like a seasonal ebb and flow. Whatever it is, the discovery is enough to excite the imagination of even the most science-phobic citizen. Of course, this news comes only a few weeks after the final space shuttle mission, and more potential cutbacks in federally funded research.
Still, we’re compelled to explore and uderstand the universe that surrounds us. That’s certainly the case for Steven Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and the principle scientist behind the Mars Exploration Rover Project, who made his UCTV debut this summer after a busy trip to UC Berkeley sharing his experiences and thoughts on the future of planetary exploration.
If the prospect of water on Mars floats your boat, then make sure to tune in to these programs featuring Professor Steven Squyres: