Exploring Mars

Exploring Mars

It takes a massive team of scientists to further our understanding of the Solar system. As a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, Kobie Boykins helps build spacecraft that unpeel the mysteries of our universe. Take a trip inside NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and learn what Mars can tell us about other planets as well as our own.


5 - 12


Earth Science, Astronomy, Engineering, Physics

Transcript (English)

- My fundamental job is to design and build hardware that goes out and explores our universe.

- [Christopher] Kobie Boykins is a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

- [Kobie] I've built things that have gone to the surface of Mars, built things that look back at Earth, things that have gone under the ocean. I've built things that have gone into deep space.

- [Christopher] In 1949, the first human made object was sent into space. Since this time, computers and other tech allow us to see into the universe like never before. Advancements in technology have allowed scientists to consistently reach further into the universe. For example, by late 2018, NASA's deep space probe, Voyager 1, was nearly 13.5 billion miles away from Earth, and yet it's still sharing data with scientists. The United States has successfully landed eight advanced robots on Mars, and Kobie has contributed to many of these vehicles.

- You get to call your family and say, you know that thing that just went up there in space and is now on its way to Mars? Well, yeah, I built that.

- [Launch Control] Two, one. Main engine start, zero, and lift off of the Atlas 5 with Curiosity.

- [Kobie] It's an amazing feeling to have hardware that you've touched and you've played with, and you got to manipulate in some way on the surface of another planet.

- [Launch Control] Touched down confirmed. Received on Mars.

- So, do I have a favorite Rover? I mean, it's hard not to love the first child. And so our first child is really the Sojourner Rover, which really started our exploration of Mars with robotic vehicles. And so if you don't have that first thing, if it wasn't Kennedy saying that we're gonna go to the moon, not because it's easy, because it's hard.

- We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

- It's the same type of thing. We're not gonna go do roving exploration on the surface of Mars because it's easy, but we know it's hard.

- [Christopher] The scientists and explorers build upon the discoveries and triumphs of those that came before them. But for Kobie, the best part of exploration is not knowing the answer.

- There's very few days that I don't actually get some interaction that is new that I'm learning about. Where somebody asks a question where you don't know the answer and you just have to be open to that experience and sort of go, ooh, I wonder what's gonna happen today.

- [Launch Control] One, zero, and lift off of the Delta rocket with Mars Pathfinder. And the vehicle has cleared the tower.

Transcripción (Español)

- Exploradores en el campo

- Mi trabajo fundamental es diseñar y construir aparatos que van a explorar nuestro universo.

- [Christopher] Kobie Boykins es un ingeniero mecánico en el Laboratorio de Propulsión a Chorro de la NASA en Pasadena, California.

- [Kobie] He construido cosas que han ido a la superficie de Marte, construido cosas que miran hacia la Tierra, cosas que han ido bajo el océano. He construido cosas que han ido al espacio profundo.

- [Christopher] En 1949, el primer objeto hecho por el hombre fue enviado al espacio. Desde ese momento, las computadoras y otras tecnologías nos permiten ver el universo como nunca antes. Los avances en tecnología han permitido a los científicos llegar cada vez más lejos en el universo. Por ejemplo, a finales de 2018, la sonda de espacio profundo de la NASA, Voyager 1, estaba a casi 27.1 mil millones de km de la Tierra, y aún así sigue compartiendo datos con los científicos. Los Estados Unidos han logrado que ocho robots avanzados aterricen en Marte, y Kobie ha contribuido en muchos de estos vehículos.

- Puedes llamar a tu familia y decir, esa cosa que acaba de ir al espacio y que ahora está en camino a Marte... Bueno, sí, yo la construí.

- [Control de Lanzamiento] Uno. Arranque del motor principal, cero, y despegue del Atlas 5 con Curiosity.

- [Kobie] Es una sensación increíble tener un aparato que has tocado y con el que has jugado, y que pudiste manipular de alguna manera en la superficie de otro planeta.

- [Control de Lanzamiento] Aterrizaje confirmado. Recibido en Marte.

- Entonces, ¿tengo un Rover favorito? Quiero decir, es difícil no amar al primer hijo. Y así, nuestro primer hijo es el Rover Sojourner, que realmente inició nuestra exploración de Marte con vehículos robóticos. Y entonces si no tienes esa primera cosa, si no hubiera sido por Kennedy que dijo que iríamos a la luna no porque fuera fácil, sino porque fue difícil.

- Elegimos ir a la luna en esta década y hacer todo lo demás no porque sea fácil, sino porque es difícil.

- Es lo mismo. No vamos a hacer exploración con robots en la superficie de Marte porque sea fácil, sino porque sabemos que es difícil.

- [Christopher] Los científicos y exploradores se basan en los descubrimientos y triunfos de quienes vinieron antes que ellos. Pero para Kobie, la mejor parte de la exploración es no conocer la respuesta.

- Hay muy pocos días en los que no tengo ninguna interacción que sea nueva y de la que aprenda en la que alguien haga una pregunta cuya respuesta no conoces y simplemente tienes que estar abierto a esa experiencia y decir, oh, me pregunto qué pasará hoy.

- [Control de Lanzamiento] Uno, cero, y despegue del cohete Delta con el Mars Pathfinder. Y el vehículo ya rebasó la torre.

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Web Producer
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 29, 2024

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