Dr. Pilar Hau

Welcome to the Mars Base Provenance!Dr. Pilar Hau

What I do on Mars

Over a hundred experiments are currently being performed on Provenance and it’s my job to make sure we’re asking the right questions. Even though we’ve been able to get humans to the Red Planet, there’s still so much we don’t know. Now that families have begun living on the surface of Mars, we’ve started experimenting with new ways for making Mars habitable for humans. As you might guess, that means we have lots of scientists on board attempting to solve many different questions.

Character Q&A

Back when I was a kid living on Earth, I would frequently borrow my dad’s telescope to look at stars. We lived in a big city with too much light pollution so I had to bike into the woods just to see anything. I loved getting out of the city because it was there that the vast beauty of space revealed itself to me. My favorite place to observe was a large, treeless clearing covered in soft grass.

Sometimes I wouldn’t even set up the telescope, preferring instead to lay on the grass and stare into the night sky. But that night I was in the mood to explore. Most of my friends thought the only thing you could see through a telescope were a bunch of stars and the moon, but they just didn’t know where to look. Thanks to my dad, I had coordinates to find planets, meteors, galaxies, and, of course, any constellation you could imagine. I decided to start with something simple, the Big Dipper.

Of course, I could locate it easily enough without the coordinates but it was fun to watch the automatic tracker reposition the telescope to the exact position. Looking through the eyepiece, the stars that made up the constellation shone clearly and brightly. My eyes traced the familiar outline of the handle and cup when I noticed something unusual.

Suddenly, a bright streak of light cut through the constellation before disappearing into darkness. I knew from my dad that what I saw must have been a meteor! I had never before seen one though a telescope and was nearly breathless from excitement. Ever since that day, I’ve been fascinated by the many ways space can surprise you!

One of the best things about my job is that I get to imagine what planets looked like earlier in their history. When I was a kid, I was fascinated to learn that Earth’s continents were once combined into a single, massive supercontinent named Pangaea. And now I get to study what Mars used to look like! One way we look back in time is by noticing that some slabs of Mars rock contain small pebbles that indicate water once flowed on the planet. The pebbles we found looked just like the ones that collect in streambeds on Earth. You might think planets never change but they evolve in some very interesting ways!
Oh that’s an easy one! I’ll never forget the first time I arrived on Mars. I had seen countless pictures and videos of Mars before arriving but nothing could prepare me for what I experienced that day. As our transportation ship entered the Martian atmosphere, the entire crew including myself huddled by the ship’s window to get a good look. Everyone was moving around so excitedly that I couldn’t see until the pod door opened, signalling that it was safe to exit the ship and walk outside. While everyone was crowded by the window I was getting my space suit prepped so I could be the first one out. I’ll never forget those first steps on the Red Planet. The view was stunning, Mars looked like a massive desert that continued on forever. The sun was just setting so the nearby mountains and boulders seemed to glow ruby red. I’ll keep that image with me forever, it’s one of my most precious memories.
Oh yes! Provenance was just being built when I arrived on the planet so we needed to map what areas were best suited for new buildings. We did this by exploring the surface with a Rover and marking where the flattest land was located. One day, the power ran out on the Rover and we were stuck miles from Base! It was getting late so we would have had to wait until morning to recharge with the solar panels. That’s when I realized that rolling the Rover down a hill could generate energy from the spinning wheels. Luckily, my instruments located a nearby crater with steep walls. After pushing the Rover to the top, we hopped in and went over the edge. What a thrill! Thankfully, it worked just like I imagined and we had an exciting story to share when we got back.
As you know, I was a part of the first team of scientists to settle Mars. Back then, Provenance wasn’t much more than a bunch of former spacecrafts glued together, just like the first International Space Station! We worked incredibly hard to make the base a sustainable home for scientists and their families. When I got the news that our team wanted me to name the base I was blown away! I decided to call our new home “Provenance” which means, “the place of origin.” It seemed a fitting name for the first, livable surface based on Mars.
It may sound silly, but the after-school clubs I joined as a kid did a lot to prepare me for working on Mars. In Middle School, I joined a science competition and had to build a rocket with some fellow classmates. As a group, we had to decide on the design of the rocket. As you can imagine, I got a lot of practice debating ideas with others. This prepared me because I assist with nearly all the experiments on Provenance and am constantly working with others. It can sometimes be difficult working on a team, but it’s also very fun because everyone is so passionate about what they do. I learn something new every time I interact with a member of the Provenance crew.
Never be afraid to ask questions! When I was a kid, I thought that if I asked too many questions it would seem like I didn’t know anything. Boy, was I wrong! Coming up with interesting questions is a lot of what scientists do everyday.


My Role Model

heldmann

Dr. Jennifer Heldmann

Dr. Pilar Hau

Dr. Pilar Hau

Title Planetary Scientist
What I DoDirector of all Mars research at the Provenance Base
EducationB.S. Astrogeophysics, Colgate University
M.S., Space Studies, University of North Dakota
Ph.D., Planetary Science, University of Colorado
SkillsAtmospheric Physics, Planetary Geology, Computer Programming, Astronomy
Interests

Reading science fiction
Learning about constellations
Playing chess while weightless

Aptitude / Personality Profile

andersPersonality