GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - After a successful landing for the Mars space rover, Curiosity, it was all smiles for a professor at Concordia College in Moorhead.
"You have to be excited. We just landed on Mars," laughs Dr. Heidi Manning, Professor of Physics. "Some great science is headed our way."
Manning cheered as the spacecraft, which has spent several months in space, finally came to rest on the surface of Mars early Monday morning. The historic mission will provide insight into the sustainability of life on the red planet, but in order to gather the data, the rover will use instruments developed and tested by Manning.
"Engineers got us there, now the real fun begins," she says. "I will be working with those instruments that are on board and analyzing the information."
NASA scientists will begin a 2-year exploration in search for carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements necessary for life. Manning helped to develop S.A.M. or Sample Analysis at Mars.
"This particular instrument will be able to look and see what the past climate was like as well as the kind of molecules and atoms are present," she said. "We will find out if they could have given rise to life long ago."
Manning is currently on sabbatical from teaching at Concordia College in Moorhead.
She says space exploration is important because it "encourages younger students to get excited about math, science, and engineering."
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