SETI Institute's Pascal Lee writes about going to Mars in Huff Post Op-Ed

by Pascal Lee

Generation Mars: Reading Today to Realize Your Dreams

I was born in the 1960s, the first decade of human spaceflight and also the decade of the first Apollo moon landing. As a kid, this was a time of wonder for me. I remember wanting to learn everything I could about space, especially about Mars -- the next frontier in space exploration. To achieve my dream, I devoured every space book I could get my hands on. Ihad to find out how I would actually get to Mars.

I am now a planetary scientist and I work on Mars. Well, almost. I work at NASA planning future human journeys to the Red Planet. The Apollo missions were the inspiration behind my aspirations. Apollo not only spawned a wave of space scientists and engineers, it inspired an entire generation in all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. The "Apollo Generation" went on to become the foundation of our current tech-savvy society.

But Apollo was almost half a century ago. As it recedes into distant history, a new generation needs to have something big that draws children wholeheartedly toward STEM --something really big, substantial and meaningful. Teachers tell me that space, and within space, Mars, never fails to keep kids riveted in the classroom.