May 1997 Volume 6 Number 2

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Meet Mars Man Mehall

by Tricia Dieck, ASU College of Education and Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program

With the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) on its way to Mars, you would think that Greg Mehall could relax. This is not so! Greg is the mission engineer for TES. If you've been keeping up with TES News, then you've noticed that he is the one who writes the TES updates that appear in each issue! Greg is responsible for making sure that the TES is working properly, now and throughout the entire MGS mission.

FIGURE (at top of article): Greg Mehall working with TES engineering model back in 1990. Part of SBRC Photo 90-1-144, courtesy Santa Barbara Remote Sensing.

This phase of the MGS mission is actually a bit more calm for Greg. He originally worked in Santa Barbara, CA, for the Santa Barbara Research Center (now Santa Barbara Remote Sensing-- SBRS). While he was there, he helped build the first TES instrument-- the one that flew on the ill-fated Mars Observer. Before Mars Observer was launched in September 1992, the TES principal investigator, Phil Christensen, hired Greg away from Santa Barbara. He packed up his things and moved to Phoenix. Working at Arizona State University, Greg began planning the observations that Mars Observer TES would soon be making...

Mars Observer was lost in August 1993, just days before it was to reach the Red Planet. After more than a year hiatus, work began on the new TES for Mars Global Surveyor. Though still a resident of Phoenix, Greg got on a plane and flew out to Santa Barbara to begin working with the SBRS staff on the new instrument. Greg spent about two and a half years commuting to Santa Barbara, spending only about 7 days a month in his new Phoenix home. Working many days and nights, around the clock, paid off for Greg and the TES team when Mars Global Surveyor lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on November 7, 1996. Since the launch, Greg has finally been able to enjoy his Phoenix home and work in his ASU office again.

Greg first became interested in engineering when he was a kid during the Apollo Moon missions. He pursued his interest in space exploration by studying electrical engineering. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Michigan and an M.S. from Stanford University. His main interest was in optics, which led him to work on TES in Santa Barbara after he finished school in the late 1980's.

From the time Greg was six years old, he enjoyed math and science. Because of his early interest in space, Greg is very supportive of the outreach efforts of the Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program. He has volunteered his assistance at numerous workshops and enjoys telling kids about the TES project. His patience, enthusiasm, and expertise is evident when he explains the complexities of the MGS mission to the variety of visitors and friends that visit our laboratory at ASU.

Greg Mehall's involvement in space does not stop with TES. He has a pilot's license and hopes to be selected to be an astronaut. Every few years, NASA calls for astronaut applications, and Greg tries every time. Maybe someday, Greg will be heading, "To Mars!"

Author Tricia Dieck has worked with the Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program since August 195. She was the creator and first editor of our K-8 newsletter, Red Planet Connection. She came to ASU to obtain a Masters Degree in Science Education. As her May, 1997, graduation date approaches, she is wrapping up a thesis about how Red Planet Connection sparked student interest in science. She will be moving to Minnesota and will be very much missed by the TES group at ASU. -- K.S.E., editor

TES News is published quarterly by the Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program. This newsletter may be copied for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

EDITED BY Kenneth S. Edgett, Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.