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Steven W Squyres
Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover mission, and co-investigator for the Mars Express mission and for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

It’s difficult for me to say what inspired me to take up science, because as long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself a scientist. I thought of myself as a scientist when I was six years old – I just wasn’t a very good one at the time.

Scientists are simply people who spend much of their time trying to figure out how the natural world works. So if I had to point to one thing that inspired me to take up science, it would be a personality trait that almost everyone shares – curiosity. I’ve always been intensely curious about why things are the way they are.

The sorts of things I’ve been most curious about are really no different from the kinds of things that set anyone wondering. What are distant planets like? Are we alone in the universe? I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend most of my life as a scientist pursuing these sorts of questions, trying to satisfy my curiosity.

Steven Squyres is author of Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.