At the age of 12, Clara Ma won the Mars Science Laboratory naming contest with the entry of, "Curiosity." She has since interned at JPL twice.
Dear Fellow Martians,
While the Curiosity rover is busy exploring the Martian surface, I am going to school as a sophomore at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kan. I am very involved in my school's environmental club, and this year we started a composting program in our cafeteria.
I've also taken on a role in my local Sierra Club chapter's energy efficiency campaign. I think caring for our planet goes hand-in-hand with science and exploration. It is something that is very important to me.
In February, I rode a bus to Washington, D.C., with 40 other people to attend the Forward On Climate Change rally. The bus ride was a little over 24 hours, but it didn't feel that long at all. I had so much fun meeting and talking with people who had similar passions and motivations to those that I have. The rally and its immense energy opened my eyes to the things I could accomplish in my own community.
In May, I visited my grandparents in Beijing, China. Saying goodbye is always hard, because I absolutely love seeing them, talking to them, and being with them.
This week, I started my internship at JPL, one of my favorite places in the entire world. I am sure this will be the first of many letters that I will write to you. I can't wait to tell you more about my experiences in Pasadena as my summer continues.
With love, Clara
Aug. 5, 2012: Curiosity lands in Gale Crater. I watch from Earth, crying and shouting on the edge of my seat.
Sept. 27, 2012: Curiosity finds evidence of an ancient streambed. I play my third tennis match of the season, and share the rover's exciting discovery with my parents when I get home from school.
March 12, 2013: A rock sample analysis shows ancient Mars could have supported microbial life. I write about it in my chemistry assignment.
June 10, 2013: This is the first day of my internship at JPL, a day I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl. I don't know how I got to be so lucky.