He is the deputy principal investigator for the highly successful Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), and he has been instrumental in developing and implementing both orbital and landed missions to the planets. He is a science team member and mobility specialist for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover that has been exploring Mars since August 2012.
The Curiosity Rover mission found signs of organic materials on Mars dating back about 3.5 billion years, NASA announced June 7. It could be a big deal, said Raymond Arvidson, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences.
NASA announced earlier this week that dark streaks that appear on Martian slopes in the summer, lengthen and then fade as winter approaches are seeps of salty water. The news that Mars still has surface water again raised hopes that it may have life. It will take thoughtful mission planning to find out, says Washington University in St. Louis Mars expert Ray Arvidson, PhD.
The Opportunity rover is currently exploring a Martian crater named the Spirit of St. Louis, after the famous aircraft — which was in turn named in honor of St. Louis citizens who purchased it for Charles Lindbergh. The mission team picked this naming scheme because Washington University team members spotted a promising target just beyond the crater. As long as the rover remains in the crater, the names will drawn from a list of names related to the famous flight.
Nothing in Adam Steltzner’s younger years pointed to his becoming NASA’s chief engineer for the highly delicate landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. He flunked high school geometry and dropped out to join a rock band. On March 26, Steltzner will tell how “Curiosity Changed My Life” for the Assembly Series. His presentation, which will begin at 6 p.m. in Graham Chapel, is free and open to the public.