JPL scientist Matt Golombek at launch pad for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.
JPL scientist Matt Golombek at launch pad for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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A prestigious geology award will be presented in early November to a leader in selecting landing sites on Mars: Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Geological Society of America has named Golombek to receive the 2015 G.K. Gilbert Award during the society's annual meeting Nov. 1 to 4 in Baltimore.

Golombek is the project scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project, the landing site scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, and co-chair of NASA's Mars Landing Site Steering Committee. He was project scientist for NASA's Mars Pathfinder Project, which successfully put the first rover on Mars in 1997. He has been a leader in evaluating and selecting sites for every NASA Mars rover mission, for the 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander, and for the upcoming InSight lander and Mars 2020 rover.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the solution of fundamental problems of planetary geology. It is named for Grove Karl Gilbert (1843-1918), an influential American geologist who saw the importance of a planetary perspective in solving geologic problems. Gilbert was the only person twice elected president of the Geological Society of America.

"I consider this a recognition for the kind of work JPL does at the intersection of science and engineering," Golombek said. "My work on landing site selection is right at that interface, working with the engineers who design landing systems and the scientists who study the sites."

Golombek is a New Jersey native. He holds an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and masters and a doctorate in geology and geophysics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition to assessment of landing sites on Mars before and after the landings, he has studied tectonics and erosion rates on Mars as contributors to the surface morphology and geologic evolution.

For the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, JPL manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project, which operates Opportunity; the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which operates Curiosity; and the InSight and Mars 2020 projects.

For more information about NASA's robotic exploration of Mars, visit:

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