Lassonde students receive NASA award for Mars Rover work

Lassonde PhD Student Casey Moore (left), MSc student Jacob Kloos (middle) and
advisor Prof. John E. Moores (right) show off their NASA Group Achievement Awards in
front of the Bergeron Center on September 1st, 2015. Photo Credit: Brittney Cooper

Casey Moore and Jacob Kloos, two graduate students in the Lassonde School of
Engineering’s Earth and Space Science (ESS) Program have been awarded the NASA
Group Achievement Award for their contributions to the Curiosity Rover mission.
Moore and Kloos are members of the Curiosity’s Science and Operations teams and
are part of the team that decides and plans what the rover will do on the Martian
surface each day.

“This is a significant honour in space exploration where contributing as a team is the
key to success” said Moore and Kloos’ advisor, Prof. John E. Moores. “It is fantastic
that our students have the opportunity to become directly involved in running a
space mission by operating a robot on another world.”

For MSc student Kloos, working on a space mission is an opportunity “to see how
things really work in the background. You always hear about results from Mars, but
it is cool to understand the complex mechanics of doing science on another planet
and to be a part of that.” PhD student Moore has been a part of the mission for
nearly two years and notes that “not many people can say they go to work on Mars.
It’s exciting working on such a large project with top researchers from all around
the world. I don’t think many people have an appreciation for just how much work is
put in my hundreds of dedicated people on a daily basis to keep the rover healthy
and productive.”

In specific, the award cites the student’s contributions to “exceptional innovations in
rover surface operations leading to significantly improved Mars Science Laboratory
prime mission performance and science return.” It is the 11th NASA Award for
members of Prof. Moores’ Planetary Volatiles Laboratory in the last six years.