NASA's Chief Scientist On The Possibility Of Finding Alien Life: "It's Going To Be Mindblowing"

April 13, 2015 12:48 PM

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Sometime around the year 2035, NASA hopes to fly a manned spacecraft to Mars and land astronauts on the planet. How will it achieve this daunting goal? Who will create the necessary technologies? And just as important, how will it teach the American public about the difficulties—and value—of such a distant,expensive, and audacious mission? At the moment, much of the responsibility for all of that rests on Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist. Here’s what we can learn from someone trying to solve a problem that no one has ever faced before.

When it comes to achieving such a (literally) distant goal, the key is to keep the process manageable, according to Stofan. "We have to ask, ‘How can we break a huge challenge like sending humans to Mars into a series of doable, afford- able steps? How can we break that problem down into chunks in o...

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