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Steve Squyres, Ph.D., is Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and is the principal investigator for the science payload on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Project.
Steve Squyres earned his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1981, is a former student of the late Carl Sagan, and spent five years as a postdoctoral associate and research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center before returning to Cornell as a faculty member. His main areas of scientific interest have been Mars and the moons of the outer planets. Research for which he is best known includes study of the history and distribution of water on Mars and of the possible existence and habitability of a liquid water ocean on Europa.
Dr. Squyres has participated in many of NASA's planetary exploration missions, including the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, the Magellan mission to Venus, and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission. Along with his current work on MER, he is a co-investigator on the 2003 Mars Express, the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the 2009 Mars Surface Laboratory missions. He is a member of the gamma-ray spectrometer flight investigation team for the Mars Odyssey mission and is a member of the imaging team for the Cassini mission to Saturn.
Buffeted by budgetary and technical problems, the rover missions received the green light only in 2000, giving the engineers and scientists just three years to get ready for a 2003 launch. A geologist designated as the lead scientist for the missions, Dr. Squyres had to negotiate with engineers to fit his stuff on their spacecraft, a fundamental challenge in the space-exploration business.
Dr. Squyres has served as chair of the NASA Space Science Advisory Committee and as a member of the NASA Advisory Council. His awards include the American Astronomical Society's Harold C. Urey Prize, the Space Science Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the American Astronautical Society's Carl Sagan Award. He was recently elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Squyres is also the author of the book Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet (2005). His enthusiasm for exploring Mars shines brightly. He and Paul Newman narrated the Disney IMAX film with the same title as his book and it premiered January 2006, opening in 25 IMAX theaters nationwide.
Dr. Squyres was featured as ABC News' Person of the Week for January 9, 2004. It was noted by anchor Peter Jennings on World News Tonight that Steve Squyres "has gotten us all excited."
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