Mars sample return. We must first accomplish return of Mars soil samples before we can seriously expect the public to fund sending and returning humans. Let's do this soon.
The excitement of landing day. This is still very difficult and requires significant planning, testing and a little luck.
Juggling several missions. At anytime there are missions in different phases: operations, development and proposal stages. Keeping track of the issues of each can be challenging.
I grew up in Houston, near the Johnson Space Center; so, of course I wanted to be an astronaut.
When I was a Freshman in college. I entered college to pursue electrical engineering. After getting a work/study job in the aerospace engineering department, I changed my mind. In a way it was just luck or fate.
My original area of expertise at JPL was with Earth orbiters. Precision orbit reconstruction using GPS (Global Positioning System) and I developed an autonomous onboard navigation system that was flight demonstrated on a mission called EO-1 (Earth Orbiter 1). I now supervise a group called the Inner Planet Navigation group. The group has 18 engineers who primarily support Mars missions, with a few of the them supporting Earth orbiters.
Videography. I produced a video on the Mars Odyssey navigation team activities leading to a successful Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI).
This is a dream job. How did I get so lucky?