Alberto Fairén of Cornell University
When I was a teenager, I watched Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos and read the book based on the show. Listening to Sagan telling stories about how science is done and how scientists work, and describing the thrill of scientific discovery, I said to myself, “That's what I want to do.”
At college, I became interested in the origin of life and the possibility of life outside Earth, so I decided to graduate in genetics, and I eventually got my Ph.D. in molecular biology. I thought that a solid background on the functioning of the basic components of life would be advantageous for an astrobiologist. During my master’s, I started learning about water on early Mars, and once you begin working on early Mars environments, it becomes difficult to pay attention to anything else.
Today, the continuous novelty, the constant surprise, and the nonstop amazement make my job exciting. When you see the tracks of the rovers on the martian sand, you realize nobody has been there before, nobody has ever seen that landscape before. We are explorers investigating the last frontier. Every day of journeying brings new surprises. We are exceedingly lucky to live during this time of pioneering investigation of our planetary neighborhood. And we must put together every possible effort to make this golden age of exploration a durable endeavor. It is our responsibility to the next generations.
E. R. Uceda