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Steve Squyres
ATHENA Science Team Principal Investigator
Cornell University, NY

P2K: You've just said how incredibly difficult it is to do this. So why did you do this?

Steve Squyres: Ah. You know, I've been intrigued by Mars and the question of life there, and water there, for more than twenty years. I've been intrigued by exploration, wanted to be an explorer since I was six years old. This is my big shot. This is it. This is the biggest, best thing that I know how to put together, and I've wanted to do something like this for as long as I can remember, practically.

I'll tell you, it's an amazing mixture of emotions, feelings, that I'm going through right now. Especially this morning (June 8), I got up at like four, four-thirty, and drove out to the pad while it was still dark, it was all lit up with searchlights, and driving up Lighthouse Road and looking at that thing, and it just, you know, the mix of emotions - pride, relief that we actually got to the pad because, God knows, there were times when it didn't look like we would, certainly anxiety over the launch and everything else that we still have ahead of us. We still haven't done the hardest stuff yet.

It's an unbelievable feeling.

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