STEVEN W. SQUYRES: MAN FOR MARS
It's 8 A.M. at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Mars Opportunity rover team is gathering in a conference room for its daily science kickoff meeting. For "Martian sol 149"--the 149th day on the Red Planet since the start of the rover missions--it is assembling the minute-by-minute plan of what the rosver will do: A little spectroscopy. "Ratting" a few rocks--that is, drilling them with the rover's Rock Abrasion Tool, or RAT. "I'm interested in knowing if this stuff is red or not," says Steven W. Squyres of the rocks that the rover is currently rolling over.
A professor of astronomy at Cornell University, Squyres, 48, is the principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Team, which consists of 170 members. He is responsible for all the scientific activities of both the Opportunity and Spirit rovers, leading colleague John Grotzinger to liken him to a "flea on a hot griddle," with his hands in everything.
This article was originally published with the title Father of Spirit and Opportunity.