Aerospace engineer Chris Roumeliotis have been working at NASA since 2004 in major projects like Cassini at Saturn and Curiosity on Mars. Lately his passion for space become an art in the form of music. Aiming to inspire more people into space exploration. We asked him when will humans visit Mars? Can you wait until 2040?
Inspired by the Greek summer night sky
His love for space began at a very young age, when he visited Greece and steared at the summer night sky for the very first time, along with his - now long gone - grandfather. This old man may never attented school, but he had a genuine love, a deep curiosity about space. Between listening to his grandfather and looking at bright stars, Chris Roumeliotis decided that when he grew up he will become a space explorer. No wonder his favourite sci-fi novel was "2000 Space Odyssey". What he read inside the books pages as a young boy, later become true experiences in life...
Working at NASA: A dream come true
Although neither his grandpa, nor his Greek migrant parents to U.S.A were ever educated, Chris was the first from his family not only to finish school, but to graduate top of his class as an aeropace engineer from University of Southern California. At the same time he was spotted by NASA, where he was offered employment since 2004 and now works at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
He joined the "Cassini" mission to Saturn and felt very emotional when the unmaned craft finally dived into its death. It took 7 years for Cassini to reach Saturn and then it stayed in orbit for another 13 years. While on the Cassini mission, Chris was uterly surprised to find out that parts of the actuall mission, were described in detail by wtiter Arthrur C. Clark inside the novel "2000 Space Odyssey" decades before. Proving that Sci - Fi is not only fantasy. In the meanwhile and until it's very final seconds, Cassini kept sending data back to Earth. "More than half a million pictures, that revealed five extra moons orbiting Saturn, previously unknown" .
Next in line for Chris Roumeliotis was the "red" planet Mars. He leaded the team of "Curiosity" rover on Mars for two and a half years. Literally "driving" the rover on Mars and unlocking muriads of secrets about the planets past. While speaking exclusively to SBS radio, Chris unveils some of these secrets:"Mars once had water and could contain life. But somehow the planet lost its magnetic field, turned into a solid rock, with a core that's not active anymore and an atmospheric havoc".
"Curiosity rover discovered significant evidence there was liquid water on Mars. Analyzed key chemical ingredients - essensial to life, like Oxygen, carbon, Hydrogene, Nitrogene and phosphorus. A possitive sign the enviroment on Mars was once habitable" , points Chris Roumeliotis.
But what about the future?
When will man walk on Mars? Lets bet...
If Chris had to make a bet, that day will come in 2040. Before that another mission: "Mars 2020 rover" will be sent to the red planet, try to collect soil samples and return them to Earth. According to Chris Roumeliotis:"We still need the technology to return from Mars to Earth and more funding towards space exloration". Asked whether Elon Musk could beat his 2040 prediction at the Mars exploration bet, he replied "When there is a will, there is always a way!"
A passion for space turned into "interstellar" music
Last year Chris Roumeliotis and his cousin Cristo Panos formed the band "Phonetic Kin" and started creating a compination of space/electronic/rock/rap music. Their music and lyrics unveil forms of space and universal forces like gravity.
Phonetic Kin took their passion for space and turned it into a form of art. Music. The goal: "Inspiring even one kid or one adult to become interested in space exploration".
(Listen to Chris Roumeliotis whole interview on SBS Radio by pressing play in the podcast attached to the main image)