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Santa Monica to Get Lastest Scoop from Mars

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jorge Casuso

April 26, 2013 --It may not grab frequent headlines, but the story and pictures are literally other-worldly. A rover has been crawling across the Martian landscape for nine months, snapping pictures and taking soil samples.

The findings made by Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, will be the subject of a presentation by Keith Novak, a Senior Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Santa Monica Main Library.

“The Curiosity Mars Rover: From Launch to Landing, and Bringing the Findings Back Home” discusses “how this amazing feat of engineering was accomplished, and presents images and science results from the mission,” library officials said.

After an eight-month, 350-million-mile trip, the one-ton rover landed on Mars’ Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, only 1.5 miles from the center of the target.

“Since landing, the rover has operated successfully, driving over 700 meters across the surface of the planet, returning hundreds of images, analyzing gas and soil samples, and drilling into Martian rocks,” according to the lecture’s organizers.  

The goal is to determine if the site is habitable and contains water and to study the climate and geology of the red planet in preparation for a future manned mission.

A thermal design engineer in the Spacecraft Thermal Engineering and Flight Operations Group at JPL, Novak was the Rover thermal design lead for the Curiosity Rover and is currently the MSL Mission Operations Thermal Team Lead.

Novak was the lead thermal control engineer on the Mars Pathfinder (1997) Mission Operations Team and contributed to “the design, analysis and testing of thermal aspects of the spacecraft,” according to JPL’s website.

The program is made possible through the support of the Friends of Santa Monica Public Library.  The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first arrival basis. 

The Santa Monica Public Library is wheelchair accessible.  For special disabled services, call Library Administration at (310) 458-8606 at least one week prior to event.  For more information, visit or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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