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Dr. Jim Rice
Arizona State University & Participating Scientist
Mars Exploration Rovers project

Two events that had a profound influence on my life were the Apollo lunar landings and the later Viking robotic landing on Mars. It was a very thrilling time to be alive because I was able to go look up at the Moon in our backyard and know that Americans were up there walking and working. I wanted to be part of the next big step in exploration and that would be landing astronauts on Mars. From this point onward Mars has always been the focus of my career. We presently have no firm plans to land astronauts on Mars, or even sending crews back to the Moon. However, I still believe that it will happen and I hope to play a role in making this dream come true.

I was also very fortunate to have great parents that supported and instilled in me the drive to go out and fulfill my dreams. They took me to the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center located in Huntsville, Alabama, numerous times. I obviously never tired of these trips, but my brothers and sisters sort of got sick of it after awhile. NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center is where the most powerful rocket in the world was designed, built and tested. This rocket would take America to the Moon; it was called the Saturn V. These trips cemented my dreams because they allowed me to touch and see real Moon rocks, rockets, spacecraft, and space suits. NASA summed up all the good things America meant to me: patriotism, teamwork, and a "can do spirit" to achieve seemingly impossible dreams.

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