What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?
Don't be discouraged if you're not at the top of your class. As far as I am concerned, enthusiasm and perseverance are the most important qualities that will lead to personal success.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I look forward to helping out with the Mars Exploration Rover mission. I hope to also become involved with future Mars missions.
What are your dreams for the future of exploration?
I hope that the U.S. commits to sending humans to Mars. I hope also that private enterprise becomes involved in the launch and space tourism industry.
What portion of this mission interests you the most?
I am thrilled with the idea of seeing landscapes on the surface of Mars that have never been seen before. I am also hopeful that we will be able to find minerals that we can conclusively say were formed in aqueous environments.
What’s the most extraordinary experience you've had so far on this mission?
Participating in the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover field test in August 2002 was definitely a singular experience for me. I have done geology in the field myself, but the FIDO test was the first time that I, as a member of a team, have done field geology through a robotic rover.
When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to get out to the planets myself as an astronaut.
When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?
Since grade school I wanted to be an astronaut and since high school I wanted to be a geologist. Those desires led to my becoming involved in planetary geology.
Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?
By studying Mars, we are gaining insights that will help us understand the geologic history of the Earth. By characterizing the surface of Mars with robotic rovers, we are also serving as the advance scouts for future human explorers.
What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?
I believe that without the presence of an active frontier, human society stagnates. Space is the frontier that we must now explore and develop.
Do you work on any other projects at your company?
I am involved in several other NASA funded science investigations and also periodically help out with content for traveling museum exhibitions developed by the Space Science Institute.
Describe the human side of robotic exploration.
It is human imagination that develops rovers and selects where they land and what features they investigate. The rovers are just an extension of our own imagination and desire for knowledge.
Do you have any hobbies?
I am an avid rock climber and have climbed at crags all over the U.S. as well as in Australia and Wales. I also enjoy swimming, skiing, ice climbing, and mountain biking. I am married and my wife Deb and I have two dogs.