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Steve Squyres
ATHENA Science Team Principal Investigator
Cornell University, NY

P2K: What was it that got you started, when you were six years old?

Steve Squyres: When I was really young, for one thing I always loved maps. When I was a little kid I used to sit down and go through the atlas. And I remember the atlas that we had at home when I was young - this is back in the early sixties, and the atlas was probably fifteen, twenty years old - there were still spots on the maps that were blank, in a few little places, you know, places where they just didn't have the details. Remote parts of the Himalayas and a few other spots. And that just, somehow the appeal of that, the fact that nobody knows what's there, that just always had a tremendous appeal to me, that there were places that nobody had been to yet. And by the time I got into college and was starting to really get serious about doing science and realizing I wanted to pursue a scientific career, the blank spots had all been filled in. This planet is known. And while geology definitely intrigued me and presented wonderful problem solving opportunities, I always sort of had the sense on this planet that all the really best problems had already been figured out. You know, the really meaty stuff, the really good stuff, had sort of been worked out. And I'd look at what was there and it sort of felt like filling in the details. But in the planets, out in the solar system, there are just huge blank canvases to be filled in. The combination of wanting to really go after big science questions and do it where you can go someplace that nobody's ever been before, that to me is a powerful, sort of heady combination. Sending these rovers - I mean, I'd go myself if I could. I'd go myself in a heartbeat, but we've got these beautiful machines going instead, and we send our hopes and aspirations with them and we'll see what we see.

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