Mars Rover engineer Nagin Cox to speak Oct. 9 and 10 at UNL

Released on 10/01/2009, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHERE: Nebraska Union (room posted), 1400 R St. (Oct. 9, 7 p.m.); Morrill Hall, south of 14th and Vine Streets (Oct. 10, 1 p.m.)

Lincoln, Neb., October 1st, 2009 —
Nagin Cox
Nagin Cox

Since the beginning of time, people have been entranced by the night sky and by our nearest planetary neighbor -- Mars. From the early missions to Mars (Viking in 1975 and Pathfinder in 1996-97) through the more recent missions, Mars has been -- and is -- a challenging destination.

Nagin Cox of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Oct. 9 and 10 to share the dramatic story of the Mars exploration missions with students and community members. Cox is deputy chief of the engineering team for the rovers and for the spacecraft that delivered the rovers to Mars. Cox will give a public lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Nebraska Union, 1400 R St. (room posted). She will also appear at 1 p.m. Oct. 10 at the University of Nebraska State Museum (Morrill Hall), south of 14th and Vine streets. Cox will show pictures and answer questions as she addresses, "Hitting the Road on Mars: The Legacy of the 2004 Mars Exploration Rovers and the next Missions to Mars." Cox will also give a 7 p.m. talk Oct. 10 at Hyde Observatory, 3701 S. 70th St.

Regular museum admission will apply for her talk in Morrill Hall. Her talks at the Nebraska Union and Hyde Observatory are free and open to the public.

Mueller Planetarium's Jack Dunn hosted a visit from Cox previously as part of the museum's annual Astronomy Day event.

"I've found Nagin to be an inspiring speaker for youth, particularly young women, who wish to pursue careers in math, science and engineering. She is someone who is driven to know the scientific side of the missions even as she works the engineering," Dunn said.

At JPL, Cox worked on NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter before switching to Mars missions. In 2004, she spent two years in extra-solar exploration as the deputy project system engineer on the Kepler telescope mission to search for Earth-like planets around other stars and later became the supervisor for the Surface Systems Engineering Group. Cox works on the System Engineering team for the Mars Science Laboratory -- the next NASA rover to Mars scheduled for launch in 2011.

Cox holds engineering and psychology degrees from Cornell University and a master's degree in space operations systems engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Prior to joining JPL in 1993, she served as a U.S. Air Force captain at the U.S. Space Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cox's visit is sponsored by NASA Nebraska Spacegrant Consortium, in cooperation with Mueller Planetarium, Hyde Observatory and the UNL chapter of Society of Women in Engineering. She will also speak Oct. 9 at King Middle School and Creighton University in Omaha.

Admission to the University of Nebraska State Museum is $5 for adults (19 and older), $3 for children (5-18 years, 4 and younger are free), and $10 for families (up to two adults and their children). There is an additional charge for planetarium shows. Parking is free. For further information, telephone the museum at (402) 472-3779, visit its Web site, or Mueller Planetarium's Web site, Contact Jack Dunn at (402) 472-2641 or by e-mail.

An image link to JPL's Mars Science Laboratory is

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