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June 7, 2004

Hubbard touts campus collaboration with NASA

By Ann Gibb

UCSC and NASA have collaborated to create "a new model of research and development" for technology innovation, according to G. Scott Hubbard, director of the NASA Ames Research Center and the featured speaker at the third annual UCSC Foundation Forum on June 3.

G. Scott Hubbard

Crediting the "groundbreaking efforts" of M.R.C. Greenwood, who as UCSC chancellor helped form the first-ever University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) in partnership with NASA Ames, Hubbard said, "The focused, strategic research tasks that are emerging through UARC will create the milestones of innovation," with implications for advancing space exploration and improving life on Earth. Greenwood, now university provost/senior vice president for the UC system, was among those at the forum.

"It's humans and robots together who will discover and do science," said Hubbard as he described recent successful missions to Mars in which robots have gathered and transmitted data. He shared a dramatic computer-animated simulation of the Mars Rover landing, including the "six minutes of terror," when the Rover slows from approximately 1,200 mph to zero at landing.

Hubbard was instrumental in establishing the new NASA Ames Mars Center, which is free and open to the public, and includes the world's largest "immersing wall," providing visitors with a fly-through experience of the Mars landscape.

Vice Chancellor for Research Robert Miller moderated a faculty panel discussion following Hubbard's talk. David Deamer, professor and acting chair of biomolecular engineering, spoke on the use of DNA research in exploring the possible shared origins of life on Earth and Mars; Gabriel Elkaim, assistant professor of computer engineering, described his research in robotics; and Ali Shakouri, associate professor of electrical engineering, presented the possibilities for engineering at the nano scale for more efficient use of heat and electricity.

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