By Linda Kor
Among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and engineers who made this event come to fruition is a name familiar to many in Holbrook. Aaron Yazzie, a 2004 graduate of Holbrook High School, is a mechanical engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories. He played a significant role in the development of the Curiosity’s ability to collect samples from the planet.
The design includes a turret at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm that holds five devices, including a percussive drill for collecting powdered samples from rock interiors, a dust removal brush device, another device called a Mars Hand Lens Imager, an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, and a multi-purpose device named Collection and Handling for Insitu Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA). The CHIMRA includes a soil scoop and a set of chambers for sieving, sorting and portioning samples of rock powder or soil for delivery to analytical instruments. The purpose of these instruments is to determine by the samples collected whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.
Below: "Aaron Yazzie poses in front of a Curiosity rover mock-up at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratories where he works as a mechanical engineer. Yazzie’s skills played a role in the development of the rover that is collecting surface samples on Mars."