Jeff Foust is editor and publisher of The Space Review, a weekly online publication with essays and articles about space policy, commercialization, exploration and related issues. He also publishes Space Politics, a space policy blog; NewSpace Journal, a commercial space blog; and Spacetoday.net, a space news aggregator. He works as a senior analyst and project manager with the Futron Corporation of Bethesda, Maryland, an aerospace consulting company. He has a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A bit over a week ago, a one-ton spacecraft bearing the poetic name Curiosity touched down on the surface of Mars. The landing was widely celebrated, not just by the scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who worked for years on the mission, but by the general public—from those following the landing on the Internet to a crowd that gathered in Times Square to watch the event on a giant video screen. In the coming weeks, Curiosity will set out on a multi-year mission to explore its landing site, Gale Crater, and search for evidence of whether Mars was once capable—and possibly still is—of supporting life.