Sunset

Adam Steltzner, NASA landing engineer for the Curiosity rover (Photograph by Amanda Friedman)

Evidence of past water (and possibly life) on Mars, brought to you by the West.

They're celebrating in Pasadena today, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, over the news that the JPL-designed Mars rover Curiosity's landing site shows evidence that it was once covered by fast-moving water. No one is happier than NASA's Adam Steltzner, who told Sunset last month that he spent 9 years of 8- to 12-hour days engineering the complex landing system of the SUV-sized robot.

"When you're doing an engineering project, you break it in pieces and decode its elements," he said. Over time, those little bits synthesize into a whole and, with a little luck and a whole lot of tech genius, a successful landing, observation and scientific conclusion. Which, of course, leads to even more curiosity in Pasadena: Did that water support life?

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