Steve Metzger was raised in a small town in rural New York State, where, guided by his Civil Engineer father, his family built their own house, barn and vacation home. He started a lucrative photography business as a freshman in high school and still shoots portraits, events and promotional images. He pursued geology, theater and filmmaking at St. Lawrence University, earning a B.S. in Geology & Geography in 1978. He worked as a professional sports photographer in New England and Colorado for several years, moving on to become an oil-drilling mud logger in North Dakota and Montana. During most of the 1980s, Metzger taught science, art and English literature, plus coached alpine skiing and lacrosse at two private schools.
He shifted his focus to research by earning an M.A. in Geological Sciences at SUNY Buffalo in 1994. His project reconstructed Ice Age meltwater drainage on the state of New York and Mars. While finishing the Masters, he worked at St. Lawrence University teaching at the school's Geographic Information System labs. He then moved to the desert southwestern U.S. to pursue a Ph.D in geology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He graduated in 1999 with an award for Outstanding Graduate Student.
Early in the doctoral program, Metzger observed dust devils but couldn’t find much background literature on how they operated. He began a field research program in 1995 into these bizarre dust columns using meteorology masts, chase vehicles and wind tunnels that continues today, involving dozens of international colleagues. Although he was turned down for a direct role on the 1997 Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission, he independently used an image-processing technique he invented while still a student, using MPF images to discover the first dust devils seen from the surface of another planet. In recent years, Metzger has conducted dust devil research in Chile and Peru, in addition to numerous projects across the American southwest. He also consults for archeology clients in Nevada, doing climate reconstruction of excavation sites. Now a member of the Planetary Science Institute (based in Tucson, AZ), Metzger continues his interest in the surface geology of Earth and Mars, unraveling paleoclimates and determining why and how much dust is pumped into the atmosphere from arid regions. He avidly shares the excitement of scientific exploration through educational outreach, lectures and part-time teaching at a regional Job Corps center.
Pascal Lee is founder and chairman of the Mars Institute and a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute. He is director of NASA's Haughton-Mars Project (HMP), an international multidisciplinary field research effort centered on the scientific study of the Haughton impact crater on Devon Island in the High Arctic. The HMP explores possible parallels and differences between the Earth, the Moon, and Mars, and supports field studies of new technologies, strategies, and human factors in preparation for the future exploration of planets by robots and humans.
Lee's research interests focus on asteroids and Mars, particularly the history of water on Mars and the geological and physical conditions that allow life to develop on planets. Lee was first to propose the Cold Early Mars model based on field investigations of Devon Island's cold-climate geology. He is also widely recognized for his efforts to advance the human exploration of Mars, in particular via its asteroid-like moons Phobos and Deimos.
Lee recently led the successful Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, a record- setting 500 km sea-ice rover trek along the fabled Northwest Passage in the Arctic. The expedition's findings are helping NASA plan future long-range human-driven rover expeditions on the Moon and Mars.
Lee's latest project is the Jules Verne Explorer, a helicopter-based flying laboratory that will allow access to any extreme environment at the surface of the Earth. It has advanced in-situ water and life-detection analytical capabilities and will revolutionize fieldwork by bringing researchers and their labs directly to the site of their studies.
Lee holds a Ph.D in astronomy and space sciences from Cornell University. He is also an FAA-certified helicopter flight instructor.
Tim Dowling is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Dowling studies planetary atmospheres and specializes in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics. He is the principal investigator on the development of the EPIC Atmospheric model, funded by NASA and NSF, which is a general circulation model designed for planetary applications. EPIC stands for "Explicit Planetary Isentropic Coordinate" and is the leading model for the atmospheres of the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The model can also be used to simulate the atmospheres of terrestrial-class atmospheres, including Venus, Earth, Mars and Titan (a large moon of Saturn with a substantial atmosphere).
Some topics Dr. Dowling and his students are working on include: Jupiter's Great Red Spot, thunderstorms on Jupiter and Saturn, jet-stream stability, Venus and Titan spinup and super-rotation, and the dynamics of vortices and clouds on Uranus and Neptune.
He holds a Ph.D. in Planetary Science, from the California Institute of Technology, 1989.
In 1996, Asteroid 3529 was named Dowling in his honor by the International Astronomical Union.