John Mace Grunsfeld, astronaut and Rosenwald descendant, appears on “The Colbert Report”

Astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld was recently on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” to talk about NASA’s new Mars rover, Curiosity. Curiosity landed on Mars early Monday (August 6th) morning and has already sent back many black and white images. Grunsfeld explained how this rover differs from earlier ones–its chemistry laboratory is much more sophisticated–and talked about its primary mission: finding evidence of historical life on Mars by studying and doing tests on the dirt it recovers.

Grunsfeld’s background is linked to Julius Rosenwald in a couple of ways. His grandfather, Ernest Grunsfeld Jr., was Rosenwald’s nephew and designed the Adler Planetarium and the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments, an innovative apartment complex that housed many famous Chicagoans, including Quincy Jones and Joe Louis.

Also, growing up in Hyde Park, Chicago, Grunsfeld has said he became interested in science early in life through visits to the nearby Museum of Science and Industry, another Rosenwald-funded project that was initially known as the Rosenwald Industrial Museum. Rosenwald was inspired to create the Museum of Science and Industry after seeing similar museums in Vienna and Munich, and his hope was that the exhibits detailing industrial technology would motivate new scientific innovation by museum goers.

You can watch the segment from “The Colbert Report” on Hulu.

By Michael Rose