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May 25, 2008

Dinner with a Rockstar

Posted: 02:34 PM ET

Miles was kind enough to invite me - along with Senior Producer Kate Tobin - to dinner last night with Steve Squyres. If you don't know who he is, then you have no business in Pasadena. He is a legend around here.

Dr. Steve Squyres reacts to the images of Spirit leaving its lander in January 2004. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Think about this: in the course of humankind, we've had 5 successful landings on the Red Planet. Steve was the lead scientist for two of them!

As the principal investigator for the science instruments on the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, Steve was certainly the most interesting and insightful person to chat with here on the eve of the next Mars Landing (cross your fingers).

But to shoot the breeze with him over some beers at a local brew pub was borderline surreal. I turned to Miles at one point while Steve and Kate were chatting. He saw the look on my face and said with a boyish grin, "Pretty cool, huh? We're just schleppy TV people!"

Not long after Steve arrived, a server brought over a shot of tequila and set it down in front him along with a note that read, "Nice rovers!" Some other patron had immediately recognized Steve and sent a drink his way. Like I said, if you don't know who he is, don't come to Pasadena.

Steve will be Miles' guest tonight for the hour. Tune in for LIVE! Mission to Mars tonight at 7pm Eastern.

- Alex Walker, Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Mars • NASA • Space

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Mark Peters   May 25th, 2008 2:52 pm ET

I am a bit confused here. With so many photos on the internet showing the planet surface with really odd abnormalities, some showing possible buildings and cities, why are we going to the pole to look for evidence of past or present life ??

pdykstra   May 25th, 2008 3:23 pm ET

Mark -
The reason they're focused on the polar region is that it's the most likely place to find past or present evidence of water, the key to possible life on Mars.

Outside of science fiction, I don't know anyone who has ever suggested that there's evidence of buildings or cities on Mars.

Clint Burdick   May 25th, 2008 3:24 pm ET

What do I "tune into" tonight to "Tune in for LIVE! Mission to Mars"??? I don't understand where to listen....Could someone please explain in the next 3 1/2 hous. THANK YOY.

pdykstra   May 25th, 2008 3:30 pm ET

We're on CNN and CNN International at 7pm ET tonight.
If Phoenix lands successfully, we hope to show some of the first images from the lander at 10pm ET.

Clint Burdick   May 25th, 2008 3:33 pm ET

Thank you pdykstra, and best of of luck to all the scientists at JPL right now! Must be intense!

eric   May 25th, 2008 4:14 pm ET

I live in Pasadena and I don't know Steve, so I guess I have no business here? Very pretentious

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