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Peter Thomas
Research Scientist
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Getting Here

The launch of Sputnik 1 when I was in the sixth grade focused me on space exploration, and helped push me through lots of science study and a geology degree from Princeton in 1968. I was beginning a doctorate program at Cornell in 1975 at the time of the Viking 1 launch to Mars, and became involved with it, doing my thesis on the Martian satellites Phobos and Deimos.

Encouragement for science and space came from many sources: My cousin got me in to watch several Apollo launches (shuttle launches don't compare to the soul-rattling experience of watching a Saturn V launch!). My father didn't quite believe in space exploration but he let me launch rockets in the backyard anyway. Teachers from fourth grade up who helped many aspects of learning in and out of the classroom, and perhaps as much as anything, the national mood of the '50s and '60s, which very much encouraged exploration and science.
Petting a real Tasmanian Devil in Tasmania (island SE Australia).

More About Me

I grew up in Durham, North Carolina. Graduate school was interrupted for three years by interesting (but harmless) military service in Asia and Europe. I got a pilot's license years ago, but haven't flown in a long time. My chief hobby now is photography, with the occasional tennis, t-shirt designing and fossil hunting. I read a lot of history, ranging over many subject areas, but emphasize the Civil War and exploration.

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