NASA releases first photograph taken by the Curiosity rover on Mars

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by Adam Wilhelm

NASA has released the first color photograph taken by the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.

It turns out a local woman who graduated from DSHA and Marquette University is playing a key role in the historic mission.

When Curiosity touched down safely early Monday, 33-year-old Katherine Weiss was among those cheering and hugging at Mission Control. She worked for years as the senior flight software engineer.

Weiss graduated from Marquette University in 2001 with a double major in computer engineering and math. She says it was always her dream to reach for the stars.

"I knew right away when I was a kid, this was what I wanted to do and so I tailored my education that way," Weiss said.

Her contribution to Curiosity's software is a bit technical, but essentially she wrote the program that would shut down and reset the rover in the event of a problem. She also maintains an active role overseeing the mission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Scientists and science fiction writers have been speculating for years about the possibility of life on the red planet. Weiss is hopeful that Curiosity will be able to answer that question.

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