Paul Schenk

Scientist - Lunar and Planetary Institute

The following interview is a written interview conducted by the Outreach team at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL).

What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Dawn mission?

Exploring worlds we have never seen before, in a region of the Solar System that is transitional between outer and inner and is still poorly understood.

How are you participating in Dawn science as it relates to the Dawn mission?

To map and understand the nature of impact craters on Vesta and how they have shaped and altered its history, including the gigantic southern impact basin. We will be looking into one of most dynamic and dangerous phases in the formation of the Solar System, the formation of the large basins during the heavy bombardment.

What are some of the challenges that accompany your job with the Dawn mission?

That we have so little information available and will have to work fast when we get there.

What do you enjoy most about your work with the Dawn mission?

Starting out and anticipating what we will find.

Describe your thoughts and feelings as the Dawn spacecraft is approaching at Vesta?

What will we see? How much did the big polar basin reshape Vesta's geology When did this big impact occur? What don't we know about large asteroids?

What are your leisure time activities?

Deep sea diving (and scuba). Working (!!)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Architect, diver.

At what point did you determine that you would pursue a career in space science? Tell about the path that led you to this field.

When I flunked out of art school. I took an astronomy class at the same time and discovered it was easy and a perfect fit for my space interests.

Who inspired you? Why?

Watching Apollo and Mariner flights on the news. Carl Seyfert, my undergraduate advisor in Buffalo.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Childhood's End (among others).

What advice would you give to aspiring engineers or scientists?


Where are they from?

Planetary science is a global profession.