A&M Professor Works With "Curiosity" Rover on Mars
By Adam Hammons
COLLEGE STATION- Years of sweat and tears have gone into the Mars "Curiosity" project, and an A&M professor is witnessing it first hand.
Atmospheric science professor at Texas A&M Mark Lemmon will be working with the project in the coming weeks. While he wasn't in the room that America saw erupt with enthusiasm, he does know how they feel.
"It worked out, I'm just stunned that this is going so well," Lemmon said. "Instead of being out of a project and in some cases out of a job tomorrow, that you got this wonderful opportunity to explore mars, and see new things that nobody has ever seen. It really is just this incredible dichotomy between a good day and a bad."
Lemmon says the landing was incredible because there were so many things that could have gone wrong.
"This is so complex that either everything goes right and you have a good day," Lemmon said. "Or something goes wrong and that triggers the next thing going wrong and things go south really fast."
However, with all the possible failures, the mission has been a success. He says the first step is to make sure the rover is okay. They have to check over everything to make sure things are working properly.
Over the next few months, Lemmon will stay in California working with the rover to explore the red planet.
"So this is a chance to help out understanding here on Earth by seeing how big things can change on planets like Earth," Lemmon said.
Lemmon says he has strange hours in California in order to work with the rover. He starts work at around midnight Pacific Time.
"It'll be about midnight here and it'll be about 3 in the afternoon on Mars," Lemmon said. "And that's when the rover pretty much finishes its day and we get started with ours."
Lemmon's workday may be an odd one, but he says he enjoys it. He gets to work with something that is millions of miles away.
"It's just wonderful to be able to come in to work and look at something that happened on Mars just a few hours before I came in," Lemmon said. "Then write some commands and have something happen on Mars because of what I did. However small it may be, just the fact that it happens is just an inspiration to me everyday."
Lemmon says he'll work in California for the next three months. During that time he'll work on the project and try to spend time with his family in College Station.
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