findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily
reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Deputy Science Team Chief
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
P2K: What personally excites you about the science goal of this mission? What aspects have you most excited in terms of your geology background?
Deborah Bass: When I started graduate school I wanted to do astrobiology. I wanted to be looking for extraterrestrial life. But when I was starting graduate school that wasn't something that people did. That was a hobby. That was something you did on the side. So my actual area of study is looking at water transport in and out of the polar regions of Mars, because that was kind of the next best thing because of that water-life connection. So the ability to actually be looking for water on a planet I find personally very exciting because it takes me that leap to looking for life.
P2K: What got you started on science?
Deborah Bass: I've always loved science fiction. I was a major reader when I was a kid and always loved reading science fiction. However, in my family, "science" meant medicine and I couldn't actually conceive of a notion of having some other kind of science other than being a physician. I have an awful lot of family members who are in the medical profession. So that's what I was "supposed" to do. In fact, when I went off to college I was pre-med, but I took a geology class in high school and I loved it. I thought it was great! Because in high school my favorite subjects were actually history and English. And what I found out about geology was that this is history of the Earth. "Oh my gosh, I can do history, but I can make it even broader than that", and that was really exciting to me. But I continued to tell my family that I was pre-med and I didn't declare a major until my first semester of my senior year because I didn't want to disappoint them. And when I finally did that, that was a good thing, and then at the same time I met a scientist who works on Martian geology, and I thought "Holy smokes, I can do geology and I can combine my love of science fiction." There's this field called planetary geology. It just doesn't get better than this. It's sort of this big picture, and at that point I said this is what I want to do. This is what I want to do with my life. I want to be looking at other planets, and looking at geology of them in that aspect.