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IntroductionNo planet beyond Earth has been studied as intensely as Mars. Recorded observations of Mars date as far back as the era of ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago, when they charted the planet's movements in the sky. An international fleet of robotic spacecraft are currently studying Mars from all angles. The lineup: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Opportunity rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Curiosity rover, Mars Orbiter Mission, MAVEN and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. InSight and MarCo, the first CubeSats sent into Deep Space, are en route and set to arrive at the Red Planet in November.
- 1659: Christiaan Huygens sketches the dark marking called Syrtis Major on Mars.
- 1877: Giovanni Schiaparelli maps Mars, including canali, “channels” (not “canals”) he saw connecting some features.
- 1877: Asaph Hall discovers the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos.
- 1965: NASA's Mariner 4 sends back 22 photos of Mars, the world's first close-up photos of a planet beyond Earth.
- 1976: Viking 1 and 2 land on the surface of Mars.
- 1997: Mars Pathfinder lands and dispatches Sojourner, the first wheeled rover to explore the surface of another planet.
- 2002: Mars Odyssey begins its mission to make global observations and find buried water ice on Mars.
- 2004: Twin Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit and Opportunity find strong evidence that Mars once had long-term liquid water on the surface.
- 2006: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter begins returning high-resolution images as it studies the history of water on Mars and seasonal changes.
- 2008: Phoenix finds signs of possible habitability, including the occasional presence of liquid water and potentially favorable soil chemistry.
- 2012: NASA's Mars rover Curiosity lands in Gale Crater and finds conditions once suited for ancient microbial life on Mars.
"Don't forget to try out experiments for yourself, take things apart and see how they work, and ask critical questions."
"I've always gazed up at the stars and wondered what else is out in our solar system and beyond."
"The important thing about being a scientist or an engineer is learning how to think critically, learning how to be creative, learning problem solving and learning how to learn."
"Enjoy every opportunity you have to learn and make it a point to be involved in the most challenging projects."
I've been interested in space science for almost as long as I can remember. I grew up watching the various "Star Trek" series ("Next Gen" started when I was two-years old), and the idea of studying stars and planets grew from there.
I decided that my dream was to work for NASA, even if there weren't any girls there yet. Someday there would be, and I was going to be one.
"I design software to solve problems."
"In our line of work, Earth is another planet, the one we know best."
"Find out what you’re passionate about and follow it. If you’re not sure, explore as many experiences as you can to find what inspires your passion and sense of wonder."
"There is no substitute for persistence. You must get all the training you need, and you must do well at it... that's a given."
"By the 5th grade my first long-term goal was set -- I was on a mission to become a mechanical engineer and work at JPL."
"Be curious about everything -- take every opportunity that presents itself to learn new things."
"The Ranger missions looked a lot more exciting to me than what I was doing at the time, and so I sent my resume off to JPL. I've been here ever since."
"Put yourself out there on the edge where you will force your eyes wide open."
"I always tell students that if you want it bad enough you can do it."
"Many different technical and scientific skills are needed to plan and implement the planetary missions we work on."
"Never stop learning -- this will leave your mind open and inquisitive. Curiosity is your best ally."
"Don't limit your classes to only what you are interested in -- take courses in other areas of science in order to broaden your knowledge."
"I've been paid to take pictures of Mars every day...I've watched rockets take off, and seen things I've built fly to other planets. How much more fun does one need?"
"I would advise following the three "Ps:" Be Passionate. Be Patient. Be Perseverant!"
"You have to find what you're good at and what you really enjoy doing."
Scientific curiosity should be like an itch—you can't sleep at night until you find the right answer.
"Always try different things, and be open to an evolution of your interests."
"So much of what I do is made possible by my curiosity and my passion for learning."
"I couldn't believe that I was involved in space missions so early on in college."
"I pretty much came out of the womb knowing that I was interested in space science...it's either this or insanity."
"It is never too late to discover your life's passion, and once you have made this discovery, it is never too soon to start pursuing it."
"Work hard as an undergraduate, but don't restrict yourself to getting just a technical background."
James Frederick “Jim” Bridenstine was sworn in as NASA’s 13th administrator on April 23, 2018.
"Never turn down opportunities to learn new things. Always keep an open mind when someone gives you constructive criticism."
"My job is to be the top advocate for planetary science in the federal government."
"Kuiper studied the planets... at a time when they were scarcely of interest to other astronomers."
"I grew up in a small town where working at NASA was unheard of. I worked hard, persevered, and eventually made it to where I am despite many obstacles along the way."
Eric pioneered the use of stereo HDTV, IMAX, and digital cinema technology for the visualization of planetary surfaces and atmospheres.
"Be resilient and persistent."
"I strongly believe that for everyone there is a somewhere out there— a place and a job for them."
"My favorite moment was the landing of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on Mars. It was amazing to be able to see the instruments that you had worked on actually sending back science data from Mars."
"When we explore space, we are not leaving Earth behind; rather, we are also discovering more about ourselves and our home planet."
Dr. David S. McKay, passed away peacefully on 20 February 2013. He was 77.
"Training yourself to be an expert in a single technique can be risky because it can lead to becoming a one-trick pony."
"Most people think of the movie 'Men in Black' when they hear [my job title]."
"Study lots of math. Math is the language of science."
Bruce C. Murray, the fifth director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was born in New York City in 1931.
"I am sure there are many just like me who felt this way while looking at the immenseness of space through clear and dark skies."
"The great thing about being at NASA is that there are jobs for all types—whether it's engineering, science, finance, communication, law."
"Geology was really cool to me, because I could go out into the field, look at the outcrop and try to figure out what was going on there."
"Creating something and watching it take flight was the coolest thing I had ever seen."
"The ability to reason through any issue, whether in science or in life, makes you a better scientist, engineer and citizen."
"As funny as it sounds, NASA robots inspired me: Viking and Voyager."
"There's no magic to becoming a planetary scientist or engineer -- just motivation, dedication and lots of teamwork."
"Don't be too focused on one goal. I think so much of what makes a person unique is all the serendipitous opportunities that they pursue."
"The sky is not the limit -- only the beginning."
"I wanted to conquer space. And my roommate, Roy Walford, decided that he would conquer death. Together we would then conquer time."
"My dad brought home a very small telescope when I was in the third grade. When I was able to see the rings of Saturn with my own eyes from my backyard, I was completely hooked on space!"
Astronauts pave the way for human exploration beyond our Earth. They are pilots, scientists, engineers, teachers, and more.
Project managers guide missions from concept to completion, working closely with team members to accomplish what they set out to do.
Rover Camera Operator
A camera payload uplink lead writes software commands that tell a rover what pictures to take.
The first thing that fired my imagination for planetary science was when the NASA Voyager spacecraft discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.
Melding science with design, artists create everything from large-scale installations to the NASA posters hanging in your bedroom.
Media specialists tells stories across social media and help feature missions and people on TV and in films, books, magazines, and news sites.
Writers/producers capture the incredible stories of NASA's missions and people and share them with the world.
Administrators and directors work out of NASA headquarters, prioritizing science questions and seeking to expand the frontiers of discovery.
Whether it's introducing kids to space or teaching physics to PhD candidates, educators help share their knowledge with the public.
Engineers design and build all types of machines, from what a spacecraft looks like to the software that directs where a rover goes each day.
From an astrophysicist to a volcanologist, scientists of all types pose questions and help find answers to the mysteries of our universe.
The important thing about being a scientist or an engineer is learning how to think critically, learning how to be creative, learning problem solving and learning how to learn.