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Tam High Grad Plays Key Role in Mars Landing Sunday Night

Adam Steltzner, a graduate of Tam High and UC Davis, was responsible for leading the team that designed and implemented the Mars Curiosity Rover's successful landing last night.

 grad Adam Steltzner played a central role in the "stunningly smooth" landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover on Sunday night.

Steltzner, who is the leader of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., called the landing "extremely clean" in a San Jose Mercury News article. Steltzner and his team were responsible for thinking up a new way to approach Mars to explore the possibility of alien life, past or present

The landing represents the beginning of what will be the most sustained human study of our closest planetary neighbor. The rover, which landed on Mars late last night, sent a small 64X64 pixel thumbnail image of itself to confirm its arrival.

According to NASA, the chance of landing safely on Mars is only about 40 percent, taking into account data from all missions from all countries. Although the Curiosity Rover is not designed to seek life in particular, its mission is to study the planet's ecology and chemical compounds, lending clues to the possiblity of non-human life forms.

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