EDITORIAL: An Ode to Opportunity

Ninety days. That’s all anyone expected to get out of Spirit and Opportunity, the twin rovers that first touched down on Mars in January of 2004. And yet, we are only just now saying goodbye to Opportunity, who lived for 90 days and then 5,262 more. The longevity of the Mars Exploration Rover project is a testament to the ingenuity, hard work and vision of the scientists, engineers, researchers and more who devoted themselves to expanding humanity’s knowledge of the universe. The rovers are also a crowning achievement for Cornell: The project’s principal investigator is Prof. Steven Squyres ’78 Ph.D. ’81, the James A. Weeks Professor of physical sciences.

Project Team Builds Mars Rover and Provides Interdisciplinary Experience

With the attention that Mars has been getting, lately, a lot of people are now excited about the world of opportunities that it presents. However, even before the discovery of water on Mars in September 2015 or the release of the movie The Martian, a small group of students at Cornell have been working to prepare the next generation Mars rover which can work alongside humans on the planet. The Cornell Mars Rover team participates in the University Rover Challenge, which takes place on the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The competition encourages college students to design and build a rover that could be used in the field and rovers are tested on the basis of tasks that resemble what a mission from the future might look like. Cornell consistently performs well in the competition, according to John Draikiwicz ’17, the team’s engineering manager.

NASA Scientist Mary Beth Wilhelm ’12 Aids Discovery of Water on Mars

At the age of 25, not many people can say they are on track to receive a doctorate degree within a year. Fewer can say they are concurrently employed at NASA. And fewer still can say they discovered the evidence of water on Mars. Mary Beth Wilhelm ’12 is a Ph.D. candidate in Geological and Planetary Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology and a planetary scientist working for NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. In April, she and fellow scientists affiliated with NASA Ames published a paper of their discovery of hydrated salts on Mars, signifying the presence of contemporary water activity on the surface.

Water on Mars: Does It Matter?

During a news conference Monday, NASA confirmed the discovery of liquid water on the surface of Mars, possibly hinting toward the possibility of life on the red planet, according to The New York Times. The Sun reached out to Prof. Alexander Hayes, astronomy, to get another take on what this means for further research and public opinion. What were your first thoughts upon hearing about the discovery? Were you expecting it? My first thought was: “Great!

The Sun Speaks With Steve Squyres on Mars Missions

The Sun spoke to Steven Squyres ’82, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, on his experiences with the current Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and his thoughts on the Victoria Crater dilemma and the possibility of landing humans on the Red Planet. Squyres has been teaching astronomy at Cornell since 1986. He is also a principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, which has been ongoing since 2003. On Sept. 27, Opportunity finally reached Victoria Crater after an almost two year long journey.