Back in September I was notified that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was accepting applications for their Solar System Ambassador Program. I have always been fascinated with the science and engineering that has come out of JPL. JPL is the lab that is administrated by NASA at Cal Tech that has designed, developed, and managed such programs as the three Mars rovers (Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity), the Dawn mission at Ceres, the Cassini mission at Saturn, the Juno mission heading to Jupiter, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Knowing this, I knew I wanted to apply to such a tremendous program.

After completing the application process I was notified in December that I would be invited by NASA and JPL to join their Solar System Ambassador program. I could barely contain my excitement as I knew this was an opportunity that would expand my knowledge of astronomy. I will now have access to NASA resources to educate myself on the data collected by NASA, I will learn about the design and implementation of JPL’s missions, and I will be obligated to work in the community as a NASA advocate.

Why do this? While I wish nothing more than to expand my understanding of the cosmos, I do this for our community. I want to share the excitement of space exploration with our students and help them to understand why astronomy is such an important science. This is such an exciting time for NASA and planetary exploration….we have robots on Mars, we are landing on asteroids, we are preparing for a mission that will land on a moon and drill into a subterranean ocean, and we’re building the largest rocket ever….who wouldn’t be excited about that? Its now my duty to bring that message of excitement to Rockhurst.