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Photo of Mark Powell
   Mark Powell

What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?

Get involved in as many different types of projects and endeavors as you can, and try to avoid specializing too much in one specific area. Scientists and engineers are more effective who know a little about many other areas besides their own particular area of expertise.

What are your personal goals for the future?

To help make Mars and Mars exploration missions more accessible to both scientists and the general public through superior software tools.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

I am involved in creating science visualization software that will be used by hundreds of scientists to analyze Mars Rover images and related data. Every one of those scientists has their own individual set of research goals and expectations that my tool must help them realize. Coordinating all of these requirements can be a formidable challenge.

What is unique about your job?

I get to work alongside a group of some of the most esteemed and talented scientists in the entire world exploring Mars, and not many people have such a privilege.

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

I had no idea when I was ready to graduate that I would be involved in the space industry. On the advice of my college advisor, I got to know an engineer at JPL and arranged to come to JPL (paying my own way) to talk about my computer vision research. The talk went well, and I met a lot of great people. At the time, the people who I had talked to didn't have funding to hire me on to work with them, and I was graduating soon, so I thought that was basically it. I thought that I would become a professor at a university teaching computer science classes and conducting research... which is certainly not a bad occupation, although I was more passionate about the space industry. A few months later, an opportunity came for me to work for JPL that matched my experience and talents very closely, completely out of the blue! I jumped on it immediately, and I'm very happy that I did.

Do you have any hobbies?

Trumpet, piano, computer gaming, and science fiction.

Mark Powell:
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  Personal Reflections