Brown Geologist On Curiosity Project

MARS As the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity gets set to land early Monday morning, Ralph Milliken, assistant professor of geological sciences, will be getting ready to work. He’s a member of the mission’s science team, and his curiosity lies in finding out why Mars is a colder, drier place than it used to be. Curiosity is scheduled to land on the red planet in the early morning hours of Monday, August 6.

Brown University reports that Milliken’s involvement in the project began during a 2007-2010 stint at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) when he helped to look at the landing sites people were proposing, looking at the issues such as slopes and the local geology at those sites.

Now he’s on the MSL science team and will soon be living on Martian time.

For the first 90 days of the mission, Milliken will live in Pasadena at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. His work schedule will be based on the days, or “sols,” of Mars, which are 40 minutes longer than Earth’s days. He’ll work with other scientists and engineers to decide what the rover does every day, including which samples to zap with its laser or bore into with its drill.

(Topography of Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The JPL’s “7 Minutes of Terror” video after the jump. Check out the Curiosity mission page; they even have a countdown clock.

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