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Central Columbia High School graduate works on Mars

The former student now works with NASA but came back to her alma mater to speak with science students.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Pa. — Not everyone can say they spend their workday on Mars, but that's the reality for Roberta Beal.

Beal graduated from Central Columbia High School near Bloomsburg in 2000 and now works for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. She is currently with NASA, where she works on laser instruments on Mars.

"This isn't some far-off fantasy dream, even though it feels that way sometimes. I visit Mars every day. Not, obviously, literally, but I get to see the Martian surface every day, and that's not something that's a fairy tale. that's something anyone can do," Beal said.

This week, Beal is back at her alma mater, talking to students about the Mars Curiosity Rover and the instrument she works on called ChemCam.

"The laser instrument that zaps the rocks and gives us information about the Martian surface," she explained.

Students enjoyed the presentation.

"As someone that's already pretty interested in science and space stuff already, hearing from someone that's already involved with it is really, really cool," said sophomore Murphy Groblewski.

"I thought it was pretty cool to see someone who went here and went on to do such awesome things as working at NASA, Mars," junior Ayden Pointer said.

Many of the students say it's motivating seeing a fellow Central Columbia graduate now working on a project on Mars.

"I don't really know what I want to do, but knowing that I can do something completely different and come back to something awesome, like, that is cool," Pointer said.

Beal says one of her favorite things to do is talk to students.

"How amazing it is to work on these missions and how they can be part of these missions too in their future as well."

Beal is giving presentations at Central Columbia High School for the rest of the week.

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