Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NASA scientist returns to Wakefield

WAKEFIELD — “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
This quote by Eleanor Roosevelt hangs on the auditorium wall of the Our Lady of Nazareth Academy to inspire all students but last Wednesday it seemed to apply solely to Dr. Suzanne M.M. Young.
The 1985 academy graduate is one of six women on a team of 70 male scientists collaborating on NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander spacecraft mission. She said she is “the voice of the science team,” and on April 16, “the voice” gave a stunning multi-media presentation on the scientific specifics of the mission to students of the academy, the Odyssey Day School, and St. Joseph School.
Among her other tasks, Young is the strategic plan integrator for science operations and is responsible for delivering a fully developed science plan that fits data, time and power limits and contains all the experiments needed so engineers can sequence her plan.
After Young’s presentation, she demonstrated a prototype of the robot she helped design. The robot will be used to collect soil samples on Mars and Young will be at Mission Control in Houston throughout the summer to analyze findings. For the first time ever, the mission is dominated by academics and each individual was required to undergo a series of operation readiness tests before the launch.
“Last week’s largest trajectory put us perfectly on the path to Mars and our landing site,” she said.
The Andover native told students that she was once where they are and now she is “on her way to Mars.”

Check out Dr. Young's college résumé!
After graduating from the academy in 1985, Young earned two master of arts degrees from Brandeis and Harvard universities, though most of her courses were taken at MIT. She received her doctorate degree from Harvard, where she taught. She also taught at the University of New Hampshire and is an adjunct professor at Tufts University.

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