ASU, U of A lend a hand in Curiosity's mission to Mars

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The latest NASA mission to Mars had all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster -- intense minutes in Mission Control, years of work. dreams and billions of dollars on the line.

But once the 'Curiosity' rover broke through the Martian atmosphere and finally touched the surface, success was sweet.

Mission Control erupted in cheers, hugs and tears, and just an auditorium away, another room full of scientists helping with the mission did too, including Jack Farmer of Scottsdale.

"It was wild! We were all having fun hugging each other, jumping up and couldn't hear yourself talk!" he said.

The ASU professor talked to 3TV about his role in this mission.

His team is in charge of one of Curiosity's instruments that will examine the minerals of Mars. It's the first time NASA will use this process on the red planet.

"It really is an advanced technique, so I think we're going to really change our perspective on the mineralogy of Mars in many ways with this new method," Farmer said.

Through it all, he will update his ASU classes on Curiosity's mission, and his work on the surface. He has the same wide eyes as his students, looking forward to learning what Mars has to teach.

"The work now starts. We're on the surface, we have this wonderful payload and now we get to explore! So the fun is going to start but it's going to be a lot of work," said Farmer. 

A total of four professors from ASU are working on the Curiosity project. The University of Arizona helped in researching the best place on Mars for the rover to land.