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The Grad Student Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree
Human-Rover Partnership
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In 1973, Dr. Ray Arvidson, then a graduate student, and now the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Athena Science Payload, first looked at Mars image data sent back from Mariner 9. That initial analysis of data from the Red Planet changed his life. After graduation, Ray took a job as an assistant professor in Earth and Planetary Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His first big project was participating in the Mars Viking Lander mission in 1976! Ray was accompanied by his first graduate student, a young man named Ed Guinness. Together they spent six months at JPL working on the lander imaging flight team for Viking 1 and 2. In 1977, Ray took over as the imaging team leader through the end of the mission in late 1982, at which point Ed had finished his graduate work. Ed decided to stay at Washington University and continue working with Ray in planetary sciences.

Ray Arvidson and crew

Over the years, Ray, Ed, and a series of graduate students continued working on both Earth and planetary geology. In 1997, there was a chance to get involved in the planning for another mission (the 2003 mission to Mars) and this time, a young graduate student named Curt Niebur was there to lend a hand. Curt was involved in field testing a Mars rover prototype, Rocky 7, and eventually in the three first FIDO prototype rover field trials. When Curt graduated in 2001, he went elsewhere to work on remote sensing, only to be recruited back part-time to work on the 2003 Mars mission, due to his expertise in using rovers to do science. But Ray was not without another graduate student to support his Mars research efforts. Frank Seelos joined the group in 1999 and continues his studies and research, focusing on remote sensing analyses of Mars Exploration Rover landing sites.

Ray Arvidson, Ed Guinness, and new talent

Today, Ray, Ed, Curt, and Frank are all back together again working on Mars. They are part of the science team and associated staff that will acquire and analyze the data sent back by the Mars Exploration Rovers and they expect that their past teamwork will help them work even more efficiently during the mission.

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Last Updated: 05 September 2002

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