ASCE has honored Steven W. Squyres, Ph.D., Aff.M.ASCE, with the 2022 Columbia Medal for his advancing of in situ resource utilization through discovery of water on Mars with Mars Exploration Rovers.
Squyres is chief scientist for Blue Origin, where his responsibilities extend into all areas where the company’s activities intersect with science and space resource utilization. Prior to that he was the James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University. For almost 20 years he was scientific Principal Investigator for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Project, leading payload development and science operations for the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Over a 14-year mission, the two rovers together traversed more than 50 km across the Martian surface. Both rovers discovered rocks that had been formed in watery environments, and others altered by interaction with water. Many of these rock types are rich today in hydrated minerals, providing an accessible resource of Martian H2O. Opportunity also explored widespread deposits of hematite, a rich iron ore.
In addition to MER, Squyres participated in the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, the Magellan mission to Venus, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and the Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Mars Science Laboratory missions. Many of these missions also substantially improved our understanding of the distribution and availability of resources throughout the solar system.
Squyres has further contributed to space exploration by chairing the NASA Advisory Council for five years under Administrator Charles Bolden, and the 2013-2022 Planetary Decadal Survey for the U.S. National Research Council.
The Columbia Medal is granted for sustained outstanding contribution to the advancement of aerospace engineering, sciences, and technology in at least one of the following areas: teaching, research, design, development, planning, construction, management, or direct participation in space-borne missions and/or ground-support activities.