The Mars Rover "Curiosity" launched from Florida, the top scientist behind the mission lives in Los Angeles and part of what's roving around Mars is from Roscoe. Thursday, the mission connected with our area again.
Dr. John Grotzinger flew from L.A. to check out Forest City Gear on the way to accepting the Roy Chapman Andrew Society's Distinguished Explorer Award and giving a lecture, "Mars Science Laboratory Mission: First Results" in Beloit on Friday. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Eaton Chapel located on the Beloit College campus, 700 College St.
Forest City Gear employees get credit for making the mission possible.
"The gears are kind of what make the rover go 'round." -says Dr. Grotzinger.
Forest City gear made all gears for Curiosity's actuators, arms, wheel drives and the crane that helped the rover touch down. A task that began Thursday couldn't have happened without that twisting and turning metal.
"It's the first time we're going to begin drilling a hole on Mars; the drill moves around and it's driven by gears. So, those motors, those actuators are everything to us right now." -says Dr. Grotzinger.
The Curiosity rover puts Roscoe on the map along with the space program running it. The probe's an international hit on Twitter. Curiosity has it's own parody account, @SarcasticRover, with more than 100,000 followers. There's a big fan-base now, but Dr. Grotzinger says before Curiosity landed, doubt was in the back of everyone's mind.
"I think people were really nervous about whether or not she was going to land successfully on Mars and then when we got there to keep going for months and months and months and now we've checked everything out, but I think that success gives everybody a lot of confidence to keep trying to do this stuff which is really important for the country."
Forest city Gear's CEO Fred Young thinks space exploration can bring our nation long-term benefits.
"As long as we keep investing in this sort of project, we will retain a lead in technology that will allow other, future advances to come along that we will be the leader in developing." -Young says.
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