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Next Month Mars, and then.....

by Patrick Woida

April 18, 2008 -
Well an exciting day looking at the future for a project about to move into history.

Tonight we are hosting the Space Grant Student Symposium Dinner. The NASA Space Grant program brings talented undergrads to work on projects doing professional research. For our mission I've worked with 5 past SG and 2 of the current students. Three of my past students are already on board as part of our team and this year’s new pair will join us as well this summer on Mars. These are the real next generation of space explorers. We also have great people contributing in other parts of the Project like Education and Public Outreach.  Tonight all the program students from across Arizona gather for dinner and a pep talk from AZ Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Tomorrow all the SG students get together a make presentations on the work they’ve done for the last year as part of their programs at the Lunar and Planetary Lab. One of the best parts of my work on Phoenix is the ability to be able to work with these bright and talented students.

Also today were joined by the Google Lunar X Prize team at the ScienceOperationsCenter. The LPL/UA Phoenix team is throwing our hat into the arena for the Google X-prize contest with our new partners Raytheon in Tucson and CarnegieMellonUniversity in a race to the moon. We’ve setup the model lander and “Red” Rover in our lobby. There is a truly impressive team together and a terrific plan to return to Tranquility Base. This is where I plan to make my home after Phoenix.

The building is a buzz of activity, all with a focus to the future. We have all been so forward focused to get to Mars to conduct our present mission. It’s inspiring to have these wonderful people to set our vision on the horizon for the future following Phoenix join us here.

More on the Space Grant and Lunar X projects can be found at: