On The Ground With Curiosity

by Mary Martialay on August 16, 2012

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now that NASA rover Curiosity is safely on the ground, it’s starting to take its bearings and perform its mission—analyzing the rock and soil of the Martian surface for clues to the planet’s past, particularly with regard to the presence of water, and the potential for habitability.

As a member of the science team that’s overseeing the mission, Laurie Leshin, the dean of the Rensselaer School of Science and former NASA administrator, has a unique insight into Curiosity’s thrilling landing on Mars and the progress of its mission. Leshin has been involved with Curiosity for more than a decade, serving on the team that defined the scientific aspects of the mission and making contributions on two of the 10 instruments the rover carries. She recently returned from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. where she witnessed the landing and the early stages of the rover’s deployment (the above picture shows Leshin, second from left, celebrating the landing with NASA colleagues). On Wednesday, Leshin shared her experiences with some local reporters in the area (and you can even follow her Tweets about the mission at @rpiscidean), resulting in several news stories on local television and in area newspapers including the Albany Times Union, CBS6 Albany, and the Troy Record.

Among other things that Dean Leshin shared, is the exciting news that Rensselaer students will be involved in efforts to analyze the data Curiosity is sending back to Earth. You can expect to hear more about that now, but for the moment, thanks to Dean Leshin for bringing a piece of the NASA mission back to Rensselaer!