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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Governor visits mission

    Governor visits mission

    Gov. Janet Napolitano stood next to a robot surrounded by desolate desert terrain among red rocks and soil.

    “”As we celebrate the past, here is the future,”” she said.

    Today is Arizona Statehood Day and marks 101 days before the scheduled landing of the Phoenix Mars Lander, star of the Phoenix Mars Mission, that will explore the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

    Napolitano said this stage of the mission marks an “”exciting time”” for Arizona, as she stood next to a replica of the lander in an environment set up to look like the Martian terrain and landscape at the Phoenix Mars Mission Science Operations Center.

    When the lander arrives on the red planet May 25, it will be controlled entirely from the operation center, part of the UA campus.

    Napolitano, along with UA President Robert Shelton took a tour of the facilities yesterday and received a briefing of the mission.

    The governor expects the mission to one day become an important part of the history, of not only Arizona, but also for the science field, the UA and Tucson.

    Peter Smith, principal investigator of the Phoenix Mars Mission, said it was a great thrill to have the governor take the time to visit the operations center first hand.

    “”Her visit represents a visit from the six million people of our state,”” Smith said Smith said he can describe the mission as this year’s “”Super Bowl of science.””

    Napolitano said she will spread news of this important mission throughout the state to help commemorate the anniversary of Arizona becoming a state and to promote the support of education, especially in science and math. Thinking of the projects of the future is “”a perfect way to celebrate the past,”” Napolitano said.

    “”The mission is a stepping stone in the search for life in the universe,”” said Smith who predicts the mission will offer a “”tremendous future for Tucson.””

    Smith hopes the mission will be used by Napolitano to promote science education throughout the state.

    “”It’s important to get more young people involved with math and science,”” Napolitano said, adding the mission will help inspire the state to support education.

    Napolitano said an innovative culture of science is an important part of our state, as it should be. The governor was glad to hear that there are roughly 25 undergraduates working with the mission, Smith said.

    “”This is one more example of the governors support for higher education,”” said Shelton, who called the mission an important part of the UA.

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