Next Stop: Mars
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became hooked on the space program as a child in the late 1960s,
when his grandmother, who knew people at JPL, fed him a steady diet
of Mariner educational kits. Last January, when Salyards took his
7-year-old son to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to witness the
Mars Polar Lander launch, he was able to re-experience the miracle
of space travel through innocent eyes.
Vasavada remembers being about the same age as Salyards' son during
the Viking landing on Mars. "Ever since I saw those first pictures
of a different planet from eye level, as if you were standing on
it, I was inspired to go into this field," he says. Vasavada, who
graduated from UCLA's Department of Earth and Space Science in 1992,
hoped at the time he'd be able to return one day to help Paige with
this mission. After completing his Ph.D. studies at Cal Tech, he
was asked by Paige to join the MVACS team.
a very profound experience, being involved in pushing the limits
of knowledge of our environment and existence," says Pierre Williams,
a first-year Ph.D. student in geophysics and space physics at UCLA,
who worked with Vasavada and Paige on the selection of the landing
site. Williams stumbled upon the position as an undergraduate, when
he took a class taught by Paige and approached him one day for advice.
Paige offered Williams a job with MVACS on the spot. "I experienced
a true natural high," Williams recalls.
the Web sites as the data arrives will be another major challenge.
"There's going to be so much coming back," says Kelly Zito M.S.
'98, who was hired for the task immediately after completing her
graduate studies in meteorite science at UCLA. "We're going to have
to sift through the data to decide what people will be interested
in seeing, present it in a voice that will make sense to a general
audience, and then put it on the Web as soon as possible."
the insane workload and not-enough-hours-in-the-day schedule that
McBride shoulders, make no mistake: McBride, a former staff research
associate of Paige's at UCLA who went on to serve as a JPL science
coordinator and sequence engineer on the Galileo mission to Jupiter,
is having the time of her life.