The Planetary Society
Visions Artists Engineers & Astronauts Scientists Systems
Linda Robeck  –  space systems avionics engineer
" I always wanted to be part of this magnificent exploration of this place we call home – this planet, this solar system, this galaxy.... "
How were you motivated to choose your particular field?
  When I was a very small child, my father pointed out a star to me one night. That star moved slowly across the sky, against the background of all the other stars. That star was a spaceship, he told me, and it held three astronauts on their way to the moon. The sight of that star, and the thought of those people on their way to the moon has stayed with me all my life. I always wanted to be part of this magnificent exploration of this place we call home – this planet, this solar system, this galaxy....   Click for larger image
What can you share about your creative process?
    First comes the inspiration: an idea to do something that's never been done. Then comes the image in my mind's eye... I see what I want the final product to look like, how it will be used; I see myself or someone else making it or using it. Finally comes the actual work of CREATING the physical thing. And what is it that gives a thing enduring value? Both the beauty of a thing and the function it is used for contribute to its value; and many functional things can also be beautiful. Take Stonehenge, for example – here's something built possibly thousands of years ago, apparently to track the movements of the sun, stars, and planets. It represents an enormous amount of effort to build, so it was clearly of huge value to the people of the time. It is still spectacular and of value today, for many reasons.  
What ideas do you have for a future human community on Mars?
  Let's think about this initial community as a frontier post, or a base camp for a year-round camping trip. People will want places to be by themselves, pursuing their own hobbies; they will want big areas, where they can do fun things together as a group, like games or music; they'll want a way to all get together and meet to talk over issues that affect everyone. They'll need work areas where they can do experiments and analyze samples of Martian objects; and they'll need a way to make water and oxygen out of the Martian soil and air. Each person will have their own private space.

There will be some sort of gym where they can play softball or football or soccer; or perhaps they have special spacesuits to let them play these games outside on the Martian surface. They may have a small auditorium for meetings and music. Maybe they hold their "town hall" meetings by way of computer – each person in their own cubicle and linked up via their own inter–mars–net... But since it's a frontier or base camp, it's likely to be a bit cramped, and they'll have to make do WITHOUT a bunch of stuff. Everything they do have will have multiple uses. Nothing will be "disposable" – everything will keep being used and re–used and recycled into something else. And because this is the first settlement off-Earth, it will be designed with an eye to the future – how will it grow with a growing population? How can it stay beautiful and useful, so that someday we will look at that first settlement the way we look at the Stonehenge monument today?

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