BOISE -- One Boise man is hoping to find the answer to an eternal question - is there life on Mars? The launch of the Mars Rover named Curiosity takes place Saturday, and for the past two years a Boise State University graduate has been helping NASA get to space.

Dan Isla considers himself a space buff and works for NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

As Curiosity launches from the top of an Atlas from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Dan will be in the control room where all the action is, waiting anxiously to celebrate.

We are really looking for that big bang question, you know? Is there life on other worlds, and if so, what is that life like? said Isla.

Isla is a 2009 Boise State graduate hoping to answer that big bang question. He has been working with NASA for two years building, testing and soon launching Curiosity.

Curiosity is the most complex vehicle we have ever sent to another world, and it s about the size of a Mini Cooper, said Isla.

Once it lands on Mars in August, Curiosity will act as an outer space science lab.

So there is a robotic arm that can reach out and actually touch the surface and can dig into the not only the soil but drill into the rock and take samples, said Isla.

It s a one way trip for Curiosity; it will land at a site known as Gale Crater near the center of Mars, and then spend its life climbing a mountain.

It s quite an amazing vehicle equipped with 10 instruments to determine if Mars past or present was ever a habitual environment for life, said Isla.

And although recent Mars Rovers have not confirmed life on Mars, Dan is hoping Curiosity can.

It s just really compelling evidence that yes this planet could have supported life and what that could be like and that would give someone like me hope that maybe somewhere else in the universe there are more advanced forms of life, he said.

For the next two years, Dan will be back on Earth, in California, helping to gather the data Curiosity collects. He credits his Boise State University education for preparing him to live out his childhood dreams of building robot explorers.

The last Mars Rover named Opportunity is still roaming Mars now and has been there for over seven years. Dan is hoping Curiosity will last as long if not longer.

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