A lot of people are breathing easier today now that Curiosity is in Gale Crater on Mars. Getting to Mars was a tremendous challenge in itself as the robot weighed more than a short ton. Then it had to slow down from 13,000 mph/20,920 kph to a dead stop. That takes meticulous planning where everything must be absolutely perfect. The next several weeks will be occupied with calibrations and other prep work before the real exploration begins.
@ Captain Smideo: I got my internship with NASA in part through good luck. I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and CU is one of the leading universities in the world in space science. Six CU postgraduates have been astronauts. CU people have built instrument packages for the Space Shuttle; sent experiments into space; had a hand in launching orbital telescopes and interplanetary probes; and have been involved with maintaining satellites in LEO. So there was already a relationship between the University and the Agency, making acquiring an internship easier than it might have been otherwise. The Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) is affiliated with CU and that is where I did my internship. I applied for a spot on the space flight team that LASP advertised in the campus newspaper and to my amazement was accepted. My majors were geography and mathematics and I’m sure that helped considerably.
My advice to your son is to first talk to different department chairs of his school. If he is majoring in astronomy, engineering, mathematics, physics, or some other science, he should start there. The department(s) can then get him in touch with NASA about internships. Tell him to make his desire for an internship known and he should cultivate any and every relationship at his school that will make it possible. If he is majoring in some other field, he should still start talking to the math/physics/astronomy people as well as the chair of his major’s department. He will find that people will bend over backward to help him, but he has to make his desires known. Also, he can contact LASP directly to inquire about internships at lasp.colorado.edu. Believe me, there are far worse places to spend a summer than Boulder, Colorado!
@ Wayward Son: I understand your reservations and share them. But there have been so many wonderful benefits we have gotten from the space program which have had impact on everyday life here on Earth. I don’t doubt that Curiosity will not only make some fantastic new discoveries, but the technology employed to reach Mars will be applied to numerous devices which can improve life for many right here. Seen in that light, the $2.5 billion spent on this mission is a wise investment. Besides, I’d rather see the money spent this way than on useless and wasteful military adventures like Iraq and Afghanistan.
@ kurthbethel: LOL at the picture!! Where did you find it? I’d love to download it onto my computer and share it with others.