This is a talk about winning the nerd lottery: The luckiest fanboy in fandom gets a shot to spend three months with unfettered access to mission control--that’s a journalistic first and potential NASA no-no. It’s just your average summer trying to capture the story of 130 of the world’s best planetary scientists exploring the north pole of Mars. It’s a warts-and-all look at the Phoenix Mars mission and NASA’s space narrative from a regular guy who once dreamed of leaving the planet. We’ll focus our space story on a Martian photographer. “Don’t call me that,” Peter Smith, the world’s greatest Martian Photographer says. “And don’t make me look like some wacko mad scientist.” Peter has a hard enough time with the mission’s image as it is. Peter is particular about image because he knows how getting it right has the potential to inspire the next generation of adventurers. More than half his team is here because they grew up watching Apollo and Viking missions. “What’s going to inspire the next generation?” He wants to know. We all want to know.
11th–15th March 2011