My name is Nathan Bridges and I live in Columbia, MD, USA. I am a science co-investigator with the ChemCam team. My major role is in the planning, processing, and analysis of image data from the Remote Micro Imager and in the analysis of LIBS data. At home, I love spending time with my wife and two children. I enjoy swimming, running, and yard work. I love to travel and have been fortunate that my work has brought me to many interesting places. I remember I once enjoyed reading books, but since work became busy and I grew a family, I've had hardly any time. Maybe I can catch up on that in 20-30 years.
I am one of those people who has had a life long interest in space. When I was 10-13 years old I was certain I wanted some job in space science or engineering. I was also interested in Mars. I particularly remember Carl Sagan's Cosmos television show and book and how this further spurred my interest. The Voyager fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn at this time made me realize how enthralling and exciting space exploration could be. Carl Sagan's work inspired me and sparked my interest in Mars. In addition, when I was a kid, my stepfather at the time worked at the U.S. Geological Survey and he had colleagues who studied Mars for a living. I thought that was really cool: To have someone actually pay you to study another planet. Even back in the late 70s and early 80s, with data from Viking still fresh, Mars was recognized as an important goal for further exploration. At the time, I already hoped to one day play a role in this endeavor.
After I got my Ph.D., I worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Pathfinder mission. Later, I was the Instrument Scientist and subsequently a Participating Scientist and then Co-Investigator on the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These flight projects, along with basic research, have prepared me for ChemCam. The most exciting ChemCam or MSL discovery for me would be the finding of carbon and other elements indicative of environments that could support life. That is a real possibility given the places we will visit. I admit I'd love us to find a fossil, but that is probably not realistic (maybe some day in the far, far future we will!).