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 Wendy Calvin
   Wendy Calvin

What are your personal goals for the future?

To play piano like Bill Evans. Get better at Tai Chi. Learn to ride a motorcycle.

What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?

I have really loved watching the Mars Exploration Rover mission hardware come together. Mostly we stand behind windows, but I got to help calibrate the cameras and it is great to go over to the “high bay” and then see it mounted on the rover that will actually be on Mars. We get a lot of pictures of all the pieces coming together and it has been tremendously exciting to track the progress of everything involved in getting these rovers to another planet.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

Losing is inevitable at some point. It could be a small personal loss, like not winning a proposal for some research money, or a bigger one, like 5 years of effort on a Scout mission that wasn’t selected. It can be a big program loss that is less directly related, like those of Mars Observer, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander , or even sadder, like the loss of shuttle Challenger, and now Columbia. For the small losses, I have to get over the feeling of wanting to quit, and for the big ones, I realize I am an ambassador of the space program in general. The stakes are always high and there is always some risk. I don't know anyone in this field who hasn't had to learn how to handle disappointments, big and small.

Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?

I think Mars holds the keys to the early evolution of the planet Earth. Here the first 750 million years have been erased by plate tectonics and crustal recycling. Mars doesn’t have this and so that early history is preserved. Even if it is dramatically different than Earth’s history, we’ll still know a great deal more about the early days of our solar system by studying Mars.

Do you work on any other projects at your company?

In addition to research and mission related Mars work I am also very busy with studies using similar remote sensing data sets to study Earth. I like this aspect because we can do field work in a day, rather than waiting 7 months for a rover to be our field geologist.

Do you have any hobbies?

content image for personal reflections section
I have been a runner since college. I also love downhill and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and backpacking. Essentially anything that gets me up in the mountains, rain or shine. We don’t have a television so we spend a lot of time reading or listening to music. In our spare time we make up silly names for the cats, current favorites are Sir Fluffingham and the Lady Pickles.

Wendy Calvin:
  Background Information
  Contributions to Mars Exploration
  Personal Reflections