- Associated Press - Monday, September 18, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska Native interned with NASA this summer and was tasked with helping the administration get its next orbiter mission to Mars.

Bethel resident Christopher Liu, an electrical engineering graduate student at Stanford University, worked on something called the missed thrust problem, KYUK-FM reported (https://bit.ly/2fdYpbC ).

It was Liu’s job to make sure that if the spacecraft drifted off course unexpectedly, it would have enough fuel on board to correct its trajectory and plot a new course to Mars.

“I think I just continued to maintain this sense of curiosity,” Liu said, “about the world, how it works.”

Liu presented his work at the end of his internship, which he called the “Muktuk Plot” - named after the traditional whale meal.

Liu said he learned there aren’t many Native American people in his field - so he took it upon himself to share some tradition.

“I shared some pikes, uquq, seal, and dried fish with some of the other JPL employees,” Liu said. “And akutaq as well. And they were pretty happy to try it.”

Liu will return to Stanford this fall to finish the final year of his master’s program and he encourages Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta teenagers to follow him into technical and scientific fields.

“It shouldn’t be a barrier,” he said, referring to living in the Delta. “A lot of people, they can’t even visualize themselves working for NASA or being an astronaut, but it’s definitely possible. And it’s something that should excite students who are currently in school.”

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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