Who are NASA's Earth and Space Science Explorers?
The middle school students who track weather to study its effect on bursting tree buds. And the scientist studying black holes in distant galaxies. But also the teacher whose class shares Earth science data with students around the world. And the engineer who designs robotic instruments to probe hard-to-reach planets. All of these people are Earth Explorers, Space Science Explorers or both. The Earth Explorers and Space Science Explorers series features NASA explorers, young and old, with many backgrounds and interests.
Mehdi Benna is an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He visited the University of Maryland Science Fair to judge entries and speak with students. Image Credit: NASAHow did the solar system form? How has it evolved since its beginning?
Mehdi Benna helped develop the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory rover. Image Credit: NASACurrently, Benna is learning about parts of the solar system with the instruments that he helps to develop for spacecraft. Because of his instruments, he and other scientists are learning about Mars, the moon and Mercury. He helped develop the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument. It is part of the Mars Science Laboratory rover named Curiosity. SAM will help analyze gases and solids on Mars when Curiosity lands in August 2012.
Mehdi Benna studies the movement inside Mercury's atmosphere. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Medhi BennaBenna's work constantly leads him to new questions. He thinks it is important that we never stop asking them: "Most great discoveries were triggered by simple but profound questions."