Marissa S., a senior Holston High School, was one of only 12 students in Virginia to be selected to participate in a NASA summer residential governor school mentorship program.
Marissa was paired with professional engineers at Langley Space Center in Hampton, Virginia, where she worked side-by-side with the NASA mentors from June 24 to July 21. During the monthlong program, she stayed at Christopher Newport University and was bused to the space center each day.
To be consider for the program, Marissa was subjected to a lenghty application and interview process. She was required to submit an essay as part of her application and had the following to say about her essay “For my essay, I wrote about how we could use materials available on the planet Mars to 3D print rover-type cars, and I explained what resources may be available on Mars that would help operate the rovers.” An excerpt from her essay reads: “Since Mars has been of interest for many years, I have to believe that NASA intends to settle on the Red Planet. I trust, that like Earth, transportation will become a key factor to life on Mars, whether this is for scientific exploration or for common traversing.” She continued, “Problems such as limited space and excessive transportation costs could be eliminated by having a 3D printer on Mars and using available resources. Today’s 3D printers are able to use iron and aluminum, which can both be found in the Martian crust. By using solar power smelters or chemical processes, iron and aluminum ore could be purified into raw materials for 3D printers.”
When asked to summarize her summer experience, Marissa had this to say “It was the greatest month of my life. I was able to meet people and see things that no one my age has ever met or seen before. It was really eye-opening to all the possibilities that no one knows about. I do want to tell everyone that I can that Governor's Schools are amazing opportunities to explore your interests. I was in a real work environment where I had a task and I could approach that task anyway I wanted. I was able to think creatively about the problem and had people around me who were willing to brainstorm with me. It was different from school; much better than school. I feel like I really learned because of this experience. Working at NASA Langley has definitely set in stone that I want to be an engineer.”