NASA AstroGeologist discusses Mars Colonization

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CASPER, WY - Natrona County School officials brought in one of NASA's engineers tonight to speak about recent discoveries on mars.

"We started the discover program about 10 years ago. Since that time we've had numerous astronauts come. We've had MIT come with their robotics program," said Natrona County Public Relations Officer
Kelly Eastes.

As a returning visitor to Casper, Rice has new information on the red planet.

"Last time I was here we discovered there are geysers and hot springs on mars, like Yellowstone, Old Faithful. We've discovered clays on mars, which tell us there was water on the surface for a long time and the water was drinkable," said NASA’s Astrogeologist Jim Rice

Rice spent most of his time teaching kids in Natrona County this week.

"He goes and actually works with the kids. He does presentations with classrooms. He does assemblies. He works with specific teachers to answer questions about mars and space in general and exploration," said Eastes.

Our galaxy is turning out to be quite a bit bigger than our basic nine planets.

"We've discovered about 2,000 planets confirmed outside of our solar system and estimates are even higher than that,” said Rice. “But these are confirmed absolute discoveries. There’s actually 1,706 other planets."

With all these new discovered planets across the galaxy, you might be wondering when we're actually going to be leaving earth and maybe moving on to these other planets.

"Eventually people ask me, ‘Why do we even care about mars? Why are we interested in it?’ It’s a long range but eventually we will colonize it, just like the new world was colonized 500 years ago," said Rice.

Rice says it's all about the exploration of new worlds and taking on the final frontier.

"This is a long range program. This is way down the road,” said Rice. “To me that’s kind of what it’s all about, what we’re building towards. The earth is a cradle, but you don’t live in a cradle forever."

Rice works for the Planetary Science Instuitue of Nasa and says recent discoveries of lakes on mars have really kept him and his team busy in the last several years.