Curious Visitor Takes Giant Step for Man on Mars

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By Lina Younes

Like many Americans across the country, last Sunday night I was glued to my computer screen impatiently waiting for the confirmation of the successful landing of the mobile science laboratory “Curiosity” on Mars. This technological feat is similar in magnitude to the first landing of man on the Moon. On Monday, while I was still marveling about the significance of Curiosity’s landing with colleagues, someone in the group posed a question that motivated me to write today’s blog. Basically, the question was “what does it matter to us on Earth?” I have been mulling that question ever since. Where do I begin?

Space exploration allows us to answer many questions related to life here on Earth. Through research conducted on board the International Space Station and space missions as well as the data compiled by NASA’s satellites, we will gain a better understanding of space and our Planet. This scientific research will also allow us to predict extreme weather events, learn more about our climate system, and the origins of our universe. This scientific research and collaboration with fellow federal agencies and international partners is also key to our mission here at EPA.

During Curiosity’s mission, the rover will be sending data to Earth which will provide answers to questions if there was life on Mars. If there was life, how did it exist? In what shape or form? And more importantly to us here on the third planet in our solar system, if there was life in Mars, why did it cease to exist? What made it disappear? Answers to these questions will help us gain valuable knowledge to enhance our stewardship of our Planet today. So, in response to the original question posed by one of my colleagues, “Yes, this mission means a lot to us on Earth!”

Furthermore, the scientific innovation developed through the space program is invaluable for the strength of our nation and our economy. What do we need to achieve further technological feats both here on Earth and in space? We need students to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Like Edwin P. Hubble, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride before them, we need the new generation to reach for the stars.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

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