Follow this link to skip to the main content
National Aeronautics and Space Administration vertical gray line
+ NASA Homepage
NASA's Mars Exploration Program
+ Mars Home
Zip Code Mars
Zip Code Mars Contribution
horizontal gray line

Photo of Peter Ilott
   Peter Ilott

What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?

Do what you like, and stay technical if you want to have the most fun at your job. Find what you are good at and work projects which will lead you to your own goals. Never stop being curious, and never ignore your gut feelings when things don't seem to be working correctly. Never stop learning. Never treat your job as an engineer or scientist as just a paycheck.

What are your personal goals for the future?

I'd like to walk on the moon or Mars, or just go into space. But a more realistic goal would be to participate in more planetary exploration missions.

I hope I can one day grade for my black belt in Shotokan karate.

I'd like to have a family of my own.

What are your dreams for the future of exploration?

More robotic and manned missions to the moon and the planets. I'd like to see more exploration of the Jupiter and Saturn systems (can't wait for Cassini !!)

What portion of this mission interests you the most?

Every space mission involves every physics problem imaginable, (from materials science to astral mechanics, to thermodynamics) so there is not much that is not interesting. In the end it is the science and the knowledge we gain that matters, and what I care about the most.

What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?

The idea that our Rovers will sit undisturbed on Mars for tens of millions of years. A tiny speck of very high tech, on a vast sea of very ancient landscape.

They will see untold sun rises and sunsets, on an alien world.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

The physics problems of the mission are hard to get around. But human communication (or lack of) is always the hardest problem on any mission.

What is unique about your job?

I get paid to do physics and math, and produce actual hardware that goes into space.

What’s the most extraordinary experience you've had so far on this mission?

Sending a signal to Mars Odyssey with a 40 meter dish antenna.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut, and planetary explorer, a scientist.

When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?

When I watched the early Gemini and Apollo missions as a boy. I became a physicist/engineer, and pointed myself at the work.

Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?

It is another world which is readily accessible to us, unlike Venus or the outer gas giants. The geologic history of Mars has a great story to tell. The raw materials on Mars may allow longer missions in the future. Knowledge of the universe we live in is very important to help persons of rational thought and reason combat the superstios beliefs in humans that are so dangerous to our future survival.

What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?

Martian geology has a lot to tell about solar system history. Also Mars is the only planet where we could actual walk around with only moon mission style equipment, plus there are raw materials which could be used to generate oxygen and other needed materials for exploration.

Describe the human side of robotic exploration.

Working closely with people who care greatly about their work is very enjoyable.

Do you have any hobbies?

content image for personal reflections section
Hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, karate, studying (history, paleontology, geology), computers (linux)

Peter Ilott:
  Background Information
  Contributions to Mars Exploration
  Personal Reflections