In June, Curiosity completed its first
Mars year of fieldwork in Gale, a 96-mile-wide impact crater near the
The rover team’s main objective is to read the story of successive
changes in past Martian environments recorded in the lower part of a
3-mile-high mountain of layered rock in central Gale known informally
as Mt. Sharp.
But the terrain on this mountain is too rugged for Curiosity’s famous
“7 Minutes of Terror” landing system, so the rover touched down, in
August 2012, in the deep valley between the north wall of Gale and Mt.
The valley floor displays abundant outcroppings of rock formed from
pebbles and sand that were transported by streams; it also found rock
formed from mud. Mud that was at the bottom of a lake or pond. After
drilling this mudstone, the team concluded that it was a record of a
habitable environment — life as we know it might have been able to
live in that water.
Curiosity will arrive at the base of Mt. Sharp sometime soon. From
there, it will drive up hill and through time, each layer of rock
younger than the one just below it; each layer telling us about a
different Mars of long ago.
Rover at Kimberley -- This is a mosaic
of Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)
images showing the Curiosity rover
parked at the waypoint named Kimberley
Ken Edgett is the Principal Investigator
Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) mounted on the turret at
the end of the rover’s robotic arm. MAHLI has acquired some of the
most iconic images of the mission, including “selfies” of Curiosity at
its sample extraction sites and close-ups of dust clinging to a 1909
Lincoln penny on the camera’s calibration target.
Ken is a Senior Research Scientist with
Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego, California. The company
built and operates Curiosity’s four color cameras as well as cameras
currently operating in orbit about the Moon and Mars and cruising
Ken targeted and examined tens of
thousands of images acquired by Mars-orbiting cameras and was the
first to document that new impact craters are forming on the planet
In the 1990s Ken founded
and directed Arizona State University’s Mars K-12 Education Program
and did he field work on the volcaniclastic sand dunes of Christmas
Lake Valley, Oregon.
With co-author Peggy
Wethered and artist Michael Chesworth, he published an illustrated
children’s book, /Touchdown Mars!/ in 2000. Edgett published short
stories in /Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction/, edited
by Jetse de Vries, Solaris Books (2010), and /Return to Luna/, edited
by Eric T. Reynolds, Hadley Rille Books (2008).
His name appears in the
opening paragraph of, “A Mars Never Dreamed Of,” by Kathy Sawyer,
published in the February 2001 issue of /National Geographic/, and he
appeared in 2–5 minute segments for 10 episodes of /Brainstorm/ (KTVK-TV,
Phoenix, Arizona), a 30-minute science television program for children
that aired on Saturday mornings in 1998–2000.