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.