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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
P2K: I get the sense you like things that are supposed to explode that do explode like rockets going off at the right time. What's so much fun about doing those kinds of tests?
Stacy Weinstein: Well I don't like to see things explode when they're not supposed to, but I do like to see... Well, how can you explain it? I mean it is exciting, it's just exciting to see stuff drop, and to see stuff inflate and go off and bounce and move. I mean it's motion. It's more fun sometimes, many times than sitting in your office working on the computer and reading the latest e-mail. It's exciting stuff, and you don't get to do that very often. There are some people that make a career out of it, but not me... not most of us here at JPL. And so this is an exciting opportunity.
P2K: Is Mars a kick itself... the red planet? Or is it the technical challenge that gets you going?
Stacy Weinstein: Both. There's so much we can do at Mars. People talked about if we were going to set up colonies in space, or send humans to have some sort of space-based laboratory where would we go. Would we go to the Moon? Would we go to Mars? Nobody thinks about going to Venus or Mercury. It is just inhospitable there. Jupiter, there's no place to land. Anything out past Jupiter is too far away. So we're pretty much left with the Moon and Mars. The Moon is easy to get to, but there's no atmosphere and very little water. Mars we know has an atmosphere. We don't know if there's water there yet. We do know that there is an icecap at one of the poles, but gravity's kind of close (to Earth's. Ed.) Atmosphere, we can work with that. There are a lot of things we can do we can make fuel out of the atmosphere. There is soil we could possibly grow stuff with, or at least use it as a growing medium and do some hydroponics. I mean there are things we can do there to establish even a presence and keep moving forward the exploration of space. That's a lot of why Mars is so exciting. Also the geology... it's so close to us orbitwise. Why did we get all the life? Why did we get the oceans and the soil and the animals and plants and Mars didn't? Did Mars ever have that? We don't know. And those are questions that are just so riveting... so exciting... and anything that we can do to work on the path of getting those answers I think is very exciting too.