One of the lead engineers for the landing team for the Mars rover, Adam Steltzner, was already an adult, out of school, when he took his first physics class. He was inspired to study science by a few thoughtful glances at the starry sky.
I, too, began to study science relatively late in life. This is why I look for shortcuts, and try to teach these shortcuts to help my students to study science.
This video discusses the myriad issues surrounding an ambitious project. These include technological issues, engineering, physics, biochemistry, economics and more. Almost any study of science will benefit by looking at space missions. Enjoy the video.
One thing that strikes me is the tremendous amount of collaboration that needs to go on to make something like this happen. The team that did the planning of each phase and each aspect of the mission includes hundreds of experts in dozens of fields.
I've always emphasized that the best way to study science is in groups. That's why I think the Science Learning Forum is far more useful than the videos on this website.
The latest Mars mission is a reminder that you never know where your knowledge may take you some day. Remember that next time you "have to" study science.
Mars rover Curiosity lands (we hope) tonight!