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St. Louis Native On NASA’s Team Curiosity

Brad Choat
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Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission members work in the data processing room beside Mission Control at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California August 2, 2012 ahead of the landing of the  Mars rover Curiosity. NASA said Thursday all was well ahead of its nail-biting mission to Mars, with its most advanced robotic rover poised to hunt for clues about past life and water on Earth's nearest planetary neighbor. On a two-year journey to seek out signs of environments that once sustained life, the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory and the largest and most sophisticated rover ever built, Curiosity, is set for 1:31 am August 6.  Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission members work in the data processing room beside Mission Control at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California August 2, 2012 ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. NASA said Thursday all was well ahead of its nail-biting mission to Mars, with its most advanced robotic rover poised to hunt for clues about past life and water on Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor. On a two-year journey to seek out signs of environments that once sustained life, the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory and the largest and most sophisticated rover ever built, Curiosity, is set for 1:31 am August 6. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

WASHINGTON D.C. (KMOX) - A Washington University alumnus and south St. Louis native is on the Curiosity Mars Rover team, eagerly awaiting the craft’s touchdown, early Monday morning.

NASA scientist Mitch Schulte explains the hopes for Curiosity, “To look at the geologic and geochemical records of the rocks on Mars to see if it was ever an environment that might’ve been habitable and favored the formation of life.”

Schulte was a guest on KMOX’s Total Information AM Sunday show.

He says he grew up in a time where man walked on the moon and McDonnell-Douglas was huge, “I was very interested in that as a kid. When I went to high school I was very excited about science as a career.  I was fortunate to go to Washington University, which has a great planetary science program.”

Much is being made about the so-called ” seven minutes of terror” when the Mars rover begins its final approach toward the planet. Schulte says it gets pretty intense, not only for the spacecraft, but for the program team, “I don’t think too many will have fingernails left in the morning. But, we know how it works. We’re just going to have to be patient and wait for the signal to come back, indicating it’s on the ground.”

 

 

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