His parents fed him a regular diet of books about space
October 1, 2012 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Now that's rocket science: An interview with Steve Collins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
posted by ocherdraco (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A little atmospheric music to listen to during the interview.
posted by zamboni at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2012

She’s the largest rover ever sent to the Red Planet...

I hadn't thought of the robot as having a particular gender.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 AM on October 1, 2012

It's common for vehicles (ships, rockets, trucks, etc) to be given female pronouns. What's odd to me is that I'm pretty sure I remember the previous probes being called "he". Were the others robots and this one is a vehicle (conceptually)? Am I misremembering?
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2012

Eh, never mind about the he/she designation, sorry for the derail.

[DI note: Steve attended UC Santa Cruz where he studied modern dance, acting, and Shakespeare in addition to physics.]

That is fucking awesome!

I've watched thevideo of the JPL control room as Curiosity landed several times and Collins has always stuck out to me for some reason. Perhaps it the fact that he looked the part of nerd, in all the best ways.

There's a shot of him at the 3:25 mark in the above video, right after landing has been confirmed. As others are jumping up and down and hugging each other, Collins seems lost in himself, almost in tears of no doubt joy, as the success of the mission is finally revealed. A co-worker notices him and hugs him, but Collins still seems a bit lost in one of the finest moments of the triumphant of the nerds. It's a beautiful moment to behold. I wrote all the above before getting to the part where Collins talks about this moment and what he was thinking and that just magnifies the beauty all the more.

From the interview:
I flew the Mars Observer all the way to Mars...

There is too much damn coolness in this interview, I think my head is going to explode with joy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

From an ethnographic analysis of the MER team:
The present study does not include the primary mission, but Bill Clancey’s forthcoming monograph based on earlier research suggests that this is a long-standing practice. When anthropomorphizing the Rovers or discussing their activities in public, team members use the pronoun “she”: consistent with nautical terminology. But “she” or even “it” are rare within the operations context. The insiders’ term “we” is consistently used.What's odd to me is that I'm pretty sure I remember the previous probes being called "he". Were the others robots and this one is a vehicle (conceptually)? Am I misremembering?
I think you're probably misremembering.
posted by zamboni at 10:24 AM on October 1, 2012

The JPL Curisoty landing was represented by three decades of hair styles:

*Adam Steltzner 1950s rockabilly
*Steve Collins 1960s radical longhair
*Bobak Ferdowsi 1970s mohawk

The only missing is 1980s glam rock. After the 80s, hair history becomes Groundhog day.
posted by stbalbach at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't forget that Steve also plays theremin (of course) for the excellent and science-y band Artichoke.
posted by turducken at 11:25 PM on October 1, 2012

pssst, turducken.
posted by zamboni at 6:53 AM on October 2, 2012

« Older Eric Hobsbawm   |   Dogs In Need Of Space Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments