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Contributor: Anonymous

The world recently witnessed the camaraderie of the scientists who sent the sojourner mission to Mars from the jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California. Amongst them was a brilliant African mathematician, Cheick Modibo Diarra.
Cheick first caught the ?space bug? when he listened to radio reports of the Apollo missions as a youngster in Segou, a small Town in the west African country of Mali. Cheick went on to study mathematics in France before going to the United States for further studies. Here, his outstanding work led to an invitation to work at NASA as a mathematician and project designer. He eventually became involved in designing the Mars Pathfinder mission.
He was thrilled by the success of the mission and he says he is now looking forward to future projects. He believes a human being could soon be sent to Mars. ?We hope that in the window between the year 2012 and the year 2018 that that would be a good time frame to send a human to Mars. I probably would have just retired, but it would be a great adventure still.?
Cheick Diarra is currently involved in both educational outreach programs for NASA and in planning for future missions to Mars, which will gather more data on the planet and eventually bring back samples of soil for more intensive analysis: ?I am working right now on the 2005 mission, which is the sample-return mission, which is going to be the mother of all missions! If you think the Pathfinder was difficult, wait until the sample return. That is a very complicated one. By the time we finish doing that and start answering the question about life on Mars and resources of Mars and understanding the climate and geology of Mars, as it relates to earth, that will already be the year 2008, and by that time, maybe we will have an indication of the commitment to send a human to Mars.?
Cheick Diarra reveals that he has requested that the Pathfinder team leaders name one small spot of Mars for Segou, his home town.
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