The Planetary Society
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Sarah Gavit  –  aerospace engineer & project manager
" Big challenges attract quality people who are not afraid to do the impossible. "
How were you originally motivated to become an aerospace engineer?
  When I was 8 years old, I was at a party at our neighbor's house. We were outside playing kickball when our parents called us in to watch something special on TV. I plopped myself down in front of the black and white screen and proceeded to watch as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time. I was still glued to the TV long after the other kids had run back outside to finish their game.

That was it! I knew from that moment that I wanted to be part of the space program. To this day, I'm still very excited about exploring our solar system and beyond, and the technical challenges it presents. Besides, being an aerospace engineer is fun! Not many people get to invent high–tech machines, blow things up, or see a first–ever image from another planets and get paid to do it!

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What can you share about your creative process?
    When I try to be creative, I first like to start with the simple question, "what am I really trying to accomplish?" Then, I let myself brainstorm on ways to accomplish the task, even if some of the ideas seem crazy at first. Only after a good hard look, do I start to eliminating options. Finally, I allow myself to change my mind based on new information I receive. Below are some ways that the Deep Space 2 Project established a creative environment in developing NASA's first lander to penetrate the surface of another planet:

... Have a dream and a vision. Be daring! Big challenges attract quality people who are not afraid to do the impossible.

... Take time to build a quality team whose members are young at heart. When tackling a first–ever design, a can–do attitude is more important than experience. Also, a team that is diverse in age, gender, and ethnicity is an asset. People with different backgrounds come at problems from different angles, which can only contribute to the creative process.

... Promote a team approach to solving problems. Let everyone participate. No idea is too crazy, and in fact, some of the craziest ideas are the best.

... Have fun! A team that plays together works well together.

What ideas do you have for a future human community on Mars?
  Settling Mars presents a great opportunity for mankind to "do things right". Here's what I'd like to see:

... A well thought out plan for settling the planet before we get there. This is a great opportunity to take the best of what we have on Earth and build on it.
... A policy which disallows nations or organizations from staking territorial claims. Mars belongs to everyone.
... A diverse community of people with different nationalities, genders and religions.
... Respect for the environment. We're just visitors!

I can also imagine:

... Hot spas in subterranean hot springs.
... Cyber plants that explore the subsurface of Mars.
... Big bubble sun homes, with lush internal gardens.
... Roving science laboratories on the ground and in the air.
... Wind powered sail cars that race across the red terrain.
... Sun bathing during the day, and skiing at night.
... A renaissance in art and music inspired by the new world.
... A ban on chain stores and restaurants (no Hard Rock Cafes or McDonald's please!)

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