Matthew P. Golombek was the project scientist in charge of NASA’s Pathfinder mission to Mars. Thanks to his work, millions of people vicariously visited Mars and saw its fascinating rock formations and pink skies. The Pathfinder spacecraft, launched in December 1996, landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, and sent back thousands of pictures of the planet’s rocky surface until October 1997. Golombek spent five years planning the undertaking at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The project demonstrated the feasibility of low-cost exploration of the Martian surface. His hometown of Hackensack proclaimed February 12, 1998, Dr. Matt Golombek Day. The New Jersey General Assembly also showed its pride in Golombek by drafting a Resolution Commendation. He co-wrote the book Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet for the National Geographic Society in 2000. He also led the effort to select landing sites for the two Mars Exploration Rovers that successfully landed on the planet in 2004 and sent remarkable, never-seen-before photographs back to Earth. In 2006, Golombek became a senior research scientist at NASA.
Matthew P. Golombek
Geologist, NASA Scientist
Rutgers College 1976
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of