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Oliver Groussin
Science Team Member, Deep Impact

Oliver Groussin

What's the coolest thing about Deep Impact?
It is a short space mission with a very simple and crazy concept (smashing a comet, what an idea!) that everybody can understand. But, at the same time, it will be a breakthrough for science with lots of important new results.

Why do you like working at University of Maryland?
The University of Maryland has good facilities that allow me to do my research in good condition. Moreover, the comet group is very friendly, providing an excellent working atmosphere in the office everyday.

What is your job on the Deep Impact project?
I am part of the science team. My job is to analyze the images and the spectra in order to better understand the physical properties of comets and more generally constrain the scenario for formation and evolution of the Solar System. The ultimate question is: "Where do we come from?"

How did you end up in Space Science?
I have always been interested in science and rationality, trying to understand things around me, even when I was a kid. Then, I studied physics in school and high school, where I discovered my passion for astronomy. I continued physics in college and became a space scientist.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy life! I like going out with my friends to the pub, to concerts, to dance or just to talk.

Who in your life inspired you?
I do not think there is a single person or single book that inspired me. I try to be open minded and take a bit of everybody and everything around me.

What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
I want to go back to my country, France, with the person I love, and very probably have some kids. That may sound like a boring plan but after moving for the last 10 years and being in a different country for more than 3 years, I really want to settle down in a place I like, close to my friends and family.

Were you science-oriented as a young person?
I think I was, but not for everything. I always wanted to understand the physics around me, but never the biologic facts. For example, there are plenty of things I still do not understand, and do not want to understand in nature, like how plants are growing, how fish communicate... I want nature to stay magic for me.

What was your favorite book as a young person?
It is a French book called "Le petit Nicolas" by Sempe and Goscinny. It relates the stories of a boy in primary school with all his friends, and all the bad things they were doing. It is extremely funny, but now that I am older I also realize how representative it is of the different characters you find in life and the way humans behave toward each other.

What did you want to become when you were young?
I wanted to be a scientist for a very long time. But first, I was interested in Nuclear Physics. Astronomy came later during high school, when I was observing the sky and eclipses of the Moon, all night with one friend, even just before exams. I do not recommend that!

If you weren't working in space exploration now, what might you be doing?
I could be a teacher. But since I enjoy traveling, I would prefer to be an airplane pilot or even a sailor if I could.

Biographical details contained on these pages were correct during the Deep Impact mission which ended in 2006. Several scientists from Deep Impact are now working on related missions such as EPOXI and Stardust-NExT.

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