As the Mars Pathfinder Project Scientist (chief scientist for the mission), Dr. Golombek is responsible for the overall science content of the mission and is the prime interface between the project, the science community and NASA Headquarters. He chairs the Mars Pathfinder Project Science Group (the oversight group for the roughly seventy scientists working on the mission), is deputy of the Experiment Operations Team, and is a member of the management group that provides input to budget and management decisions for the entire project.
Major accomplishments include working to keep all science instruments on the payload through development and launch with greater capabilities than when selected under severe budget constraints; representing the scientific objectives of the mission to the project, science community and NASA Headquarters; selecting and validating a landing site for Mars Pathfinder, including convening two open landing site workshops; organizing and authoring three papers and the Foreword to a special issue of Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets on the "Mars Pathfinder Mission and Ares Vallis Landing Site" (February 1997); overseeing integration of Participating Scientists and Atmospheric Structure Instrument/Meteorology Package Facility Instrument Science Team Members into the project; providing environmental and scientific information about Mars for designing the spacecraft and rover; and integrating and organizing the science team into effective operations groups for rapid planning for and analysis of science and rover data. After landing, the Project Scientist oversaw the presentation of the science results of the mission to the press, public and science community. This included extensive interactions with the media, planning and convening a number of special sessions on Pathfinder results at science meetings (Geological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, European Geophysical Society, and COSPAR), and organizing and arranging for the publication of Pathfinder scientific results in journals (December 5, 1997 issue of Science and an upcoming issue of Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets).
As a research scientist at JPL, Dr. Golombek has worked in Earth and planetary (including satellites) structural geology and tectonics, with recent emphasis on Mars geology in general. This work has been funded via peer review from a wide variety of NASA programs, including the Planetary Geology and Geophysics and the Solid Earth Science Programs, as well as advanced mission studies and the operation phases of other Mars missions. The techniques used in this research include: field and structural mapping, brittle fracture analysis, paleomagnetic analysis, space-based geodesy, planetary mapping and analysis, and modeling of planetary structures and lithospheres. Dr. Golombek has served as editor or associate editor of professional journals, as convener of scientific workshops and special sessions at national and international meetings, as a member of many NASA science advisory groups, and has been invited nationally and internationally to speak as a contributing member of the science community.