My trek towards working on Mars Exploration began in college when I decided I wanted to work on Mars Rover missions. I chose my graduate school (Caltech) partially based on its connections to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the hopes of increasing my chances to work on Mars Rover missions. At Caltech I did graduate work related to Mars Rover missions like working with the Rocky 7 prototype rover at JPL.
I helped work on a proposal for one of the 2007 Mars Scouts, bringing my expertise in Mars surface operations...we'll soon see whether the Scout proposal I worked on gets chosen!
I joined the Mars Exploration Rover Project in January 2001. I started out on the Flight Systems side, working with the Flight Software team and with the Mission Operations Team to put together the command dictionary and to work operability issues--making sure that the design of the rovers would allow the operations teams to easily accomplish what they need to do. My role evolved over the years as I continued to focus on commanding and operability, until I joined the Mission Operations team as the lead Sequence Integration Engineer, where I helped design how we'd operate the rovers on a tight Mars-time schedule. After landing, I continued in mission operations as a Tactical Uplink Lead, the "pit boss" for a given shift. I also worked hard to redesign the tools and the process to allow the teams to move off of Mars-time shifts and to streamline operations, making the schedule much more sustainable over the long run. This turned out to be important, since the rovers are lasting far longer than originally anticipated! I'm now the Team Chief for the Integrated Sequencing Team, which is the team that commands the rovers each day.
In February 2000 I joined the Mars Odyssey team as their MOS test & training engineer, where I helped the operations teams prepare for their upcoming roles during flight ops.
I joined the Mars Polar Lander MVACS (science payload) surface operations team in October 1999, working out of the MVACS control center at UCLA. I started out as a member of the Robotic Arm operations team, but soon added additional duties as a sequencing systems engineer. Unfortunately, we were never able to see our hard work on this mission come to fruition.
I joined the Sojourner Rover surface operations team in April 1997 as a graduate student. I worked Mars time during the primary mission, and stayed on for the extended mission. I primarily worked as a Rover Mission Sequence Planner, but also did a bit of rover driving as well.