In 1968, the Saturn V rocket pushed the frontier 250,000 miles (400,000 km) to the moon. Now, in 2012, Curiosity has moved the frontier 1,000 times farther. Planetary geologist and member of the Mars Curiosity science team Ken Herkenhoff recounts the dicey “seven minutes of terror,” discusses the incredible technology on the rover, and what we’ve learned in the short time Curiosity has been on the Martian surface. He also addresses the cultural significance of space exploration and why NASA and the USGS refer to Curiosity as “she.”
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Ken’s role on the ChemCam team as a planetary geologist is to plan what areas of the martian surface to image with the Remote Microscopic Imager and then study those images. In addition to his leadership of the Mars Exploration Rover Microscopic Imager team, he is the polar geology science theme lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. He was fortunate to be deeply involved in the Mars Pathfinder project at JPL, which sent the Sojourner rover to the surface of Mars. Sojourner’s success led to the Mars Exploration Rover project, for which he lead the Microscopic Imager science investigation. The experience he has gained from these missions has helped prepare him for the continued exploration of Mars with ChemCam.
For biographical information on Miles Traer, please click here.