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SUNY Potsdam Alumni Help Kick Up Some Red Dust

July 30, 2020

Two Graduates of the College Have Different Reasons to be Excited By Thursday’s Mars Rover Launch

When the Mars rover Perseverance roared into the skies above Cape Canaveral on Thursday morning, headed for the Red Planet, the launch had a personal tone for at least two SUNY Potsdam alumni — one with his hands on remote controls and the other laying down the beat.

Daniel Krysak Photo
Daniel Krysak is seen with a test rover at
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory. The image
appears orange because it that was taken inside
a testing area made to simulate light in the
Martian atmosphere.

Science on a Mission
Daniel Krysak ’08 has been deeply involved in developing the scientific instruments aboard the rover, soaring now toward Mars aboard the Atlas V 541 rocket. His job includes operating cameras on the rover and monitoring the safety of equipment once the Perseverance lands next February.

It was a great launch!” Krysak said Thursday morning. “My role on the 2020 mission will be operations on the WATSON and Mastcam-Z cameras. We've been in the development phase for a while now, so getting to see the launch this morning really puts it into perspective that we'll be working on operations in the not too distant future now!”

The rover is equipped to study a lake and river delta site on Mars which may have contained life during a wetter period 3.5 billion years ago. In search of clues to past microbial life, Perseverance is equipped with new zoom cameras and spectroscopy equipment mounted on the end of a robotic arm for extreme close-ups of the surface.

The rover will be the first to gather rock and soil samples for their retrieval to earth — and it’ll have some help from the Ingenuity helicopter, which will scout targets and help plan the rover’s route over ground.

The expedition is also carrying a plaque in honor of the world’s health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stacy Fox Photo
SUNY Potsdam Crane School of
Music alumna Stacey Fox, seen in
the recording studio, has released an
album for children titled “Songs of
Mars” celebrating the launch of the
rover Perseverance Thursday on its
mission to explore the Red Planet.

Music of the Spheres
SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music alumna Stacey Fox ’87 & ’89 is celebrating the launch with the release of her new children’s album titled “Songs of Mars.”

The album, released by Reynardine Studios, is a catchy, educational romp through the red dust. It lends music to Martian dust storms, rovers, craters, solar storms and more. Fox, a musician and composer who is also a professor in the Michigan State University School of Journalism, said the songs are great for students, teachers, homeschoolers, planetariums, sing alongs, STEM learning, space enthusiasts and overall listening.

“Being an artist who is also a total space geek since childhood, astrophotographer and educator, my hope for the album is that the songs empower young people to learn about traveling to Mars while also providing teachers, parents and others a fun and engaging way of learning science through songs,” Fox said.

About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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