TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ)
In the race to Mars, Jonathon Hills is helping NASA cross the finish line.
Hill is the mission planner for ASU's "Themus Camera," an infrared device that's been taking photos of Mars for the past 15 years.
"It's the longest operating camera around Mars everyday," he said. "We're still taking pictures, trying to learn more about the surface, so when astronauts go, we're ready to keep them safe and let them do good science."
NASA already has two rovers on Mars: Opportunity and Curiosity. The rovers and other tools show that Mars is cold and dry, but there are areas with water where we could send humans.
"I think the chances of survival are pretty good, even though Mars is a pretty harsh environment," Hill said. "It's things that we know how to deal with. We can deal with the cold, we know how to use the water that's already there, we know how to get people to and from the surface."
Hill says that before man can live on Mars, we need to take baby steps by sending an unmanned rocket in the next couple of years and sending a manned rocket that orbits but doesn't land.
"There (are) some details we need to work out, but the general ideas is already there, so I think in a decade or two we'll be able to send people there and bring them back safely," he said.
As much as Hill loves studying Mars from Tempe, he hopes his computer might turn into field work.
"Absolutely, I would go to Mars in a heartbeat," he said. "I'd like to come back at some point, but I would definitely sign up to go."