Skip to Content

Sustainability News

ASU Now | July 1, 2020

It’s a far cry from the '60s, when engineers fought scientists. Now they are in the same building, unseparated by distance or bureaucratic walls.

This is the story of how ASU's tiny geology program grew to become one of only seven U.S. institutions that can build interplanetary spacecraft. It's a story sure to instill Sun Devil pride.

It begins with the purchase of a meteorite collection, shoots to the moon with some Navy pilots who learned geology basics from an ASU professor, then turns to the hiring of sustainability scientist Phil Christensen, a self-described "accidental engineer."

The story includes interdisciplinary research and student experiences, investments in research facilities, years of hard work, hundreds of students, and an exceptional group of scientists including Christensen, Jim Bell, Craig Hardgrove, and sustainability scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton, among many others.

"One of the big differences between space exploration and other things that we do in the university is that space exploration is done in teams," said Elkins-Tanton.

Without teamwork, you don’t go to space, she said.

“Without the willingness of people to put the greater good of the whole or the team or the exploration or the goal above the greater good for themselves? You'll never get to space. And so that's one of the things that ASU has that's special.”

Read the full story on ASU Now.