Who I Am
I am a research scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I study pictures
of other planets and satellites sent back by spacecraft; my particular interests in Mars
are how the wind shapes the surface by moving sand and dust, sometimes in global storms,
and how the polar caps have affected Mars' geology and climate.
I am a member of the science teams that plan, and will analyze images sent back by the
Mars Orbiter Camera on Mars Global Surveyor, as well as the Orbiter and Lander cameras on
the '98 Mars Surveyor Orbiter and Lander. I also work on other planetary missions such as
the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Mission, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the
Cassini mission to be launched to Saturn.
My actual work varies a great deal: making detailed measurements from images displayed
on computer monitors, writing programs to analyze the measurements, planning what images
to take, presenting results in talks and papers, teaching the occasional class, and going
to meetings of the various spacecraft teams. The most fun is watching the new images that
come in...they are always different from what we expect, and it is always a thrill to see
new landscapes on the other side of the solar system, even if we can't figure them out!
Seeing spacecraft launched is also one of the fun parts, although often nerve-wracking.
One of the other fun parts of this work is that space missions are carried out by many
people all over the country (and world) who meet and work together for a common goal.
This involves learning how to get along with and understand a great variety of people.
It also means traveling to places that have major planetary research centers such as
California, Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, which are all usually warmer than Ithaca,
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.
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.