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LIVE FROM MARS: lfm
Mars Atmosphere Interdisciplinary Scientist
NASA Ames Research Center
Who I Am
I work for NASA at the Ames Research Center in Mt.View California. My job is to study
the atmospheres of the planets, Mars in particular. I am the atmosphere interdisciplinary
scientist on the Mars Global Surveyor mission, which will be launched in November 1996.
Basically, what I do is analyze spacecraft data. I also try to simulate these data with
computer models that I and my colleagues have developed over the past several decades.
What I learn from these studies helps us understand the weather and climate of Mars and
why it is so different from Earth. NASA also asks me to help them plan for future missions.
My Career Journey
I got into this business in a round-about way. When I was a boy I always wanted to be
a pilot. So when I was old enough, I started taking flying lessons. One of the things
pilots have to know about is the weather. It was at this point in my life that I began to
study meteorology. After a couple of years in the Army, I enrolled at San Jose State
University and majored in meteorology. After graduating I decided to go for a Masters
degree and starting thinking about a thesis topic. One of my professors, Dr. Christoper
Riegel, showed me a book that discussed the atmospheres of Mars and Venus. I was
absolutely intrigued! The atmospheres of these planets were so different from ours here
on Earth that I wondered what their weather must be like. Dr. Riegel then introduced me
to the man who would set me off on the path that led me to where I am today - Dr. James
Pollack. Dr. Pollack was a NASA scientist who was studying the weather on Mars and needed
a graduate student to help him out. We agreed on a thesis topic and the rest is history.
I went on to the University of Washington for a Ph.D. and returned to Ames where I've
been ever since.