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OSU Professor Helps Curiosity Reach Mars

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Curiosity can be a good thing to have and Sunday night Curiosity brought NASA one-step closer to knowing if there really is life on mars.

A one ton robotic explorer made a flawless landing into a martian crater.
For the next two-years the rover will explore the crater for new clues into life’s existence on the red planet.

A team of scientists has been working on the machine for years, including a couple of researchers from Oregon State University.

“Fantastic, fantastic all that work and they pulled it off flawlessly,” said Jeff Barnes.

Pride is flowing from OSU Atmospheric Sciences Professor, Jeff Barnes. Barnes,along with research associate Dan Tyler, worked with NASA engineers on a computer model that is playing a role in the exploration of the red planet.

Barnes opted to watch the excitement on his computer and says he wasn’t worried even as the rover made the entry, deemed 7 minutes of terror.

“I was very confident about this one, far more confident than any previous Mars landers,” explained Barnes.

The OSU team first had to get acquainted with what was going on above the planets surface. “We were closely monitoring the weather on Mars,” said Barnes.  All the while mapping out its atmosphere. “They had to program certain things about the state of the atmosphere into the spacecraft’s computer ahead of time in order for the spacecraft to fly itself through the atmosphere safely and get down to the ground,” said Barnes.

It’s a project five years in the making. “It was just a great team effort,” added Barnes. Its a project they will now watch play out from millions of miles away.

“We’ll seek to answer age old questions about whether life every existed on Mars,” explained NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

“The most exciting possible finding I think unquestionably would be the direct findings related to the possibility of life,” said Barnes.

OSU professor Martin Fisk is assisting with Curiosity now that its landed.

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