September 24, 1997

Matthew Golombek of the Mars Pathfinder Mission Speaks at Middlebury College

Matthew Golombek, Ph.D., the head of NASA's Mars Pathfinder scientific team, visited Middlebury College this week to speak about "The Mars Pathfinder Mission: Roving for Rocks on the Red Planet."

Dr. Golombek discussed scientific objectives and investigations of the mission. He also explained how scientists are able to learn about rocks they cannot directly see and touch, and described the difficulties of driving a rover remotely, from tens of millions of miles away.

Mars Pathfinder, one of NASA's quickly assembled, low-cost projects that is classified as a Discovery mission, successfully landed on the surface of Mars on July 4, 1997. Pathfinder deployed and navigated a small rover, Sojourner, and both machines continue to collect and transmit scientific data as they have for over two months. To date, more than two billion pieces of new data have been collected, including over 12,000 Pathfinder and 400 Sojourner images, and six and a half million temperature, pressure, and wind measurements.

Matthew Golombek is the Mars Pathfinder project scientist and a research scientist in the Earth and Space Sciences Division of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. JPL is the NASA center for unmanned planetary exploration. This center manages the overall Mars Exploration Program and the successful Mars Pathfinder Mission.