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Photo of Matt Golombek
   Matt Golombek
   Principal Scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California
United States Of America
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High School: Hackensack High School, Hackensack,  NJ
Bachlors, Rutgers College, Rutgers University
M.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Background Information
Dr. Matt Golombek is a research geologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, the lead NASA center for planetary exploration. He received his undergraduate degree in geology from Rutgers College, Rutgers University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in geology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Golombek was a post-doctoral fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston after which he joined JPL as a Research Scientist. Since joining JPL he has worked on a variety of Mars developmental flight project studies, was the Mars Pathfinder Project Scientist, and is the Mars Exploration program Landing Site Scientist.

Dr. Golombek’s research focuses on Mars geology in general and the prediction of surface characteristics at a lander scale from orbital remotely sensed data. In his career, he has worked on a variety topics related to the structural geology and tectonics to the Earth, terrestrial planets and outer planet satellites. Dr. Golombek has published over 80 Papers in Scientific Journals and 230 abstracts.

Dr. Golombek was the chief scientist for the Mars Pathfinder Mission, which successfully landed a spacecraft and the Sojourner rover on Mars on July 4, 1997. As Project Scientist, Dr. Golombek chose the landing site for the spacecraft and was responsible for the overall scientific content of the mission. He chaired the Mars Pathfinder Project Science Group, was a member of the management team overseeing budget and management decisions for the project, and led science team during surface operations. After landing, Dr. Golombek directed the presentation of the mission's science results to the press, the public and the scientific community. He appeared regularly on television news programs including the Today show and Nightline, with an appearance on the Conan O’Brien Show.

Dr. Golombek has lectured on the Mars Pathfinder Mission internationally and co-wrote the book Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet for the National Geographic Society. Dr. Golombek has served as editor and associate editor of professional journals, has convened scientific sessions at national and international meetings, and has served on numerous NASA science advisory groups. He acted as technical advisor on the film Mission to Mars. Dr. Golombek led the effort to select the two landing sites for the Mars Exploration Rovers, has been selected to serve on its science team and to act as a science team chief and long term planning lead during surface mission operations of the rovers.

Contributions to Mars Exploration

content image for contributions section Photo: As Mars Pathfinder Project Scientist, explaining the scientific return after landing to the press. [more contributions ...]
Personal Reflections

Follow your heart. Everyone develops at different levels, speeds, and at different times in their life. If you’re really interested and excited about planetary exploration, you should go for it, but you should also be very aware of what the limitations are of any career path that you decide on. [more personal reflections ...]