Getting to Mars

In my research at Arizona State University, I have the privilege of holding office in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) where each and every day dozens of undergraduate and graduate students and their professors are working on Mars. Some wear 3D glasses in order to scan countless thousands of images in search of geological features formed by wind and water flow; some work with meta data from orbiters and rovers to better understand reoccurring weather patterns over seasonal periods.

While I have begun to take for granted that this is the norm, I never fail to find myself a bit giddy each and every time I step into the building, realizing that in this place, as with many others in the world, there are people dedicating their studies, their careers, their lives to the exploration of worlds they themselves will never visit. The machines they design are an extension of themselves, carrying instruments that gather data to be analyzed in order to better understand a place we cannot yet experience, first-hand.

At the same time, there are teams working to determine the best landing site for the Mars 2020 mission, and eventually, the human exploration of the red planet. For me, that brings this grand adventure to life, to know that every day we are a bit closer to the first human exploration beyond the Earth-Moon system, one step closer to walking on Mars.

Updates from Mars