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Engineer Kobie Boykins is bringing his unique perspective on Mars exploration to the Upstate as part of the National Geographic Live series at the Peace Center. His Exploring Mars event is Sept. 16.

Boykins designed the solar arrays that power the Mars exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and he was responsible for the design of actuators on Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012. He also worked on the Mars Pathfinder mission and the Ocean Surface Topography Mission, making measurements by satellite of the Earth’s oceans. It’s the result of big dreams by the son of Nebraska teachers and he is excited to share it with others. 

 “My story is really the engineering story of the rovers – the fun side of what happens behind the scenes,” he said. 

Those in attendance will hear some interesting details about how the teams solved problems and more.

“It’s not a science-heavy conversation,” Boykins said. “It’s the fun side of doing engineering. I think anybody who loves the idea of being curious about our world and other worlds will enjoy it.”

And the event is for all ages. Boykins said there is something for kindergarteners and older. He hopes to inspire the next generation of engineers to keep dreaming. 

“I think it’s fun for the whole family,” he said. “For young people, it’s letting them see that it’s a real, attainable job. When I started, my goal was to work and build space vehicles. Now here I am with hardware on the surface of Mars that has sort of rewritten history.”

Boykins said he will bring along props so guests can see some of the hardware, and he welcomes interaction and questions from the audience.

“It’s really fun to hear something you might not have known about,” he said. “The best part is exploring what’s possible.”

National Geographic Live: Exploring Mars with Kobie Boykins is at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Peace Center. He will also present as part of the Peace Passport Field Trip series at 9:45 a.m. For details and tickets, visit https://www.peacecenter.org. The National Geographic Live series continues with National Geographic Live: Ocean Soul with Brian Skerry at 6 p.m. Jan. 13. 

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