This summer, three missions are headed to Mars as NASA’s Perseverance rover joins the UAE’s Hope orbiter and China’s first Mars lander-rover combo as they launch for the Red Planet. Join Space.com, NASA, The Planetary Society and Arizona State University as they take a closer look at Perseverance, the search for life on Mars and what the future holds for astronauts when they finally launch for the fourth rock from the Sun.
Meet the Summer of Mars panellists…
Jim Watzin, Director of the Mars Exploration Program, NASA
Watzin has extensive experience in robotic spaceflight mission development for NASA and the Department of Defense, along with a career that spans multiple leadership roles in program management, project management, and systems engineering. He is currently the Director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA. Previously, he served as the Deputy Program Executive for C4ISR at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), having responsibilities for radar, space, and airborne sensor development. In this role, he was considered the Agency’s senior executive for space. In 2009-2014, he initiated and ran a start-up company X-Energy, pioneering a novel approach for small, intrinsically safe, modular nuclear reactors. Watzin has also served NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in concurrent roles as the Associate Director of Flight Projects for the Explorers Program, the Living with a Star Program, the Solar Terrestrial Probes Program, and the Planetary Science Projects Division. There he was responsible for the development and execution of orbital and landed planetary instruments, spacecraft, and missions managed in support of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate – overseeing a diverse portfolio of multiple projects executed within many different venues. Earlier in his career, he led the systems engineering for NASA’s Telerobotic Servicer Project and NASA’s Small Explorer Program, and later took on leadership for multiple GSFC flight projects as project manager. Watzin was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 1999.
Jim Bell, President, The Planetary Society & Professor, Arizona State University
Bell is a professor in the School of Earth & Space Exploration at Arizona State University and is the President of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest public space advocacy organisation. He is an active astronomer and planetary scientist who has been involved in Solar System exploration using the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars rovers, the Voyager missions, and orbiters sent to Mars, the Moon, and several asteroids. Most recently, he is the Principal Investigator of the Mastcam-Z stereo zoom cameras on the NASA Mars 2020 mission’s Perseverance rover. His research focuses on the use of remote sensing imaging and spectroscopy to assess the geology, composition, and mineralogy of the surfaces of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. Bell is also an author of popular science books related to space exploration, including Postcards from Mars, The Interstellar Age and most recently, Hubble Legacy. He has received the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan Medal for public communication in science and has a main belt asteroid named after him – 8146 jimbell.
Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief, Space.com
Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com’s Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University.
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