After Curiosity landed on Mars on August 5, the Mars Science Laboratory mission transitioned from one of the most impressive engineering feats in space exploration history to a scientific mission with enormous potential for discovery.
The engineering team handed the keys to Project Scientist, John Grotzinger, and control of the rover moved from the blue-polo-shirts of the Entry, Descent, and Landing team to the Hawaiian shirts and khaki pants - a geologist's de facto formalwear - of the science team.
Who are these scientists, the dazed folks meandering around Pasadena at all hours of the night, blacking out their windows to adapt to Mars time?
The science team is large - at roughly 400 members, the biggest such group ever assembled for a robotic mission - and, press conferences excepted, you probably won't be seeing too many of the team members. Scientists have been brought onboard either as a member of an instrument team or as a Participating Scientist - researchers who have proposed using mission data in innovative new ways to answer specific questions related to Curiosity's goals. "Our science team has extraordinary breadth as well as depth," says Grotzinger. Despite the unprecedented size of the team and the drumbeat of daily operations, the first three weeks of the surface mission have gone extremely well."
Below, I've assembled some basic stats on the team's make-up*. These are the folks directing, goading, and encouraging Curiosity to uncover the secrets of Gale Crater:
|107 institutions - colleges, universities, NASA centers, and private companies - are represented among the science team.||Institutions with 5 or more participants|
|Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA)||34|
|Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA)||30|
|Malin Space Science Systems||27|
|Centro de Astrobiologia (Spain)||18|
|L'Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie (France)||16|
|Space Research Institute (Russia)||15|
|Ames Research Center (NASA)||15|
|Johnson Space Center (NASA)||12|
|Centre National D'Etudes Spatiales (France)||12|
|California Institute of Technology||10|
|Southwest Research Institute||8|
|Planetary Science Institute||8|
|University of Kiel||7|
|Los Alamos National Laboratory||7|
|University of Guelph||6|
|University of Copenhagen||6|
|Washington University in St. Louis||5|
|University of Michigan||5|
|University of Arizona||5|
|Mount Holyoke College||5|
|Laboratoire Atmospheres, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (France)||5|
|Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland)||5|
|Canadian Space Agency (Canada)||5|
|Arizona State University||5|
The science team is 72% male, 28% female. Number of mohawks: 0, at time of writing...
|13 different countries have scientists on the team||Number of Scientists|
(*The geographic information discussed here is derived from each scientist's current institution of employment, not necessarily their place of birth.)