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Name: Jim Rice

Job Title: Astrogeologist; science team member for the Mars Exploration Rovers mission

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

     • Ph.D. Arizona State University
     • M.S. Northeast Louisiana University
     • B.S. University of Alabama

Role Models:

Jim believes that "if the great explorers of history were alive today they would be exploring space, which is literally full of new worlds to explore". He says that if he had been alive 500 years ago, he would have been "jumping onboard the ships of Columbus, Magellean or da Gama".

Outside Interests:

Although work, to Jim, is a hobby, he also enjoys weightlifting and running.

How he became interested in his profession:

Jim knew from a very early age that he wanted to commit his life to the great adventure of exploring space. "I have been interested and dreamed about exploring space ever since I was seven years old. I have never really wanted to do anything else with my life."

Since he was a child, Jim has been interested in science and the great explorers of history. "Two events that had a profound influence on my life were the Apollo lunar landings and the later Viking robotic landing on Mars... I wanted to be part of the next big step in exploration and that would be landing astronauts on Mars," he said. "From this point onward, Mars has always been the focus of my career."

What he likes about his field of work:

"While working on my Ph.D. I was invited by NASA to go on a 6 month long joint expedition to Antarctica with the Russians. This expedition allowed me to go and explore the last frontier on the surface of the Earth. It was one of the most exciting times of my life and perhaps as close as I will ever get to going to Mars." According to Jim, "exploration and danger go hand in hand".

Jim truly appreciates the importance of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. "Having a frontier to explore is very important for this nation and the world. It challenges us, it allows us to have profound dreams, it makes us grow as a society. Mars is the most Earth-like planet, and I think someday in the future, we will colonize it just like the new world was colonized 500 yeas ago. This mission is part of that incredible endeavor."