HONOLULU (AP) — A University of Hawaii scientist has been selected to be part of an elite team that will help analyze data from the successful Mars landing of a NASA rover.

Scott Rowland is one of several geologists who will analyze the data in the hopes of uncovering signs of former bacterial life on the planet. The rover Curiosity is expected to be able to collect and transmit data on the geology and climate of the planet. Rowland and the team now have an opportunity to uncover millions of years of geological history of Mars and perhaps discover evidence of life on another planet.

Rowland, a specialist in volcanology, heads for Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday, where he and the rest of the camera crew will establish day-to-day procedures for analyzing the information transmitted by Curiosity for the next three months, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://ow.ly/cMsGU ). The work will continue remotely over the next few years.

He watched Sunday's landing via an Internet feed at the university's Pacific Ocean Science and Technology Building. "To have the ability to follow each step with real-time play-by-play like that was spectacular," he said. He was joined by Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology Director Peter Mouginis-Mark and about 20 faculty, students and community members, including Rowland's parents and son.

"It was really fun," his 7-year-old son, Kai, said afterward. "I thought my dad did a really good job."

The landing was nerve-racking to Rowland because of the implications a botched landing would have had on future explorations. "There might not have been another one for 10 years," he said.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com