Rover’s landing on Mars simply explained in Ohio State lecture
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 22:11
The next generation might have gotten a little bit of inspiration from a lecture about the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars.
Andrew Johnson, an employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who worked on the Curiosity rover, gave a lecture in the Ohio Union Conference Theater at 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the monthly Science Sundays public lectures.
Curiosity landed on Mars Aug. 6 at about 1:30 a.m. Eastern time with the goal of figuring out if there were ever inhabitable environments on the planet. It will determine this by figuring out historical temperatures, what the air is made of, and if the water that existed on Mars was contaminated in a significant way.
Johnson showed photos and video to help explain how the rover landed, what the rover’s mission is and what technology the rover uses to do its job.
OSU professor John Beacom, the director of the Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics, organized the lecture and estimated that there were about 200 people, young and old, in attendance.
When it came time for a Q-and-A session, children were called on first, and their questions ended up taking up the entire allotted time.
“I was very, very happy to see all those young kids here today, and that’s why I prioritized their questions, because that’s the future of science and technology,” Beacom said.
After the lecture, Johnson agreed about the importance of sparking interest in kids.
“I was really happy to get a lot of questions from kids because that’s very important to us — to have people excited about what we’re doing. It helps keep us funded and it helps our program make sure it has a good future by having people that learn about math and science,” Johnson said in an interview with The Lantern.
OSU students at the event were impressed with how easy the lecture was to understand.
“There were a few things that were a little confusing, but he ended up explaining them later on. So at first it made absolutely no sense, but then he simplified it down so the kids behind us actually understood, too,” said Rachel Klein, a first-year in biochemistry.
Johnson included an inspirational message in his lecture about the value of education.
“For all of those of you who are still in school, this is why you’re going to school, to have a moment like this, to actually feel like you have done something that made a difference in the world,” Johnson said.