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   Bryan Allen

What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?

Be curious. Ask questions. Read a lot. Be passionate!

What are your personal goals for the future?

Someday hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Keep working on Mars exploration. Build a photovoltaic-powered ocean cruising boat and cross some oceans.

What are your dreams for the future of exploration?

The universe is REALLY BIG. I hope that one day we, as a civilization, will have explored a goodly chunk of it. In the shorter term, I look forward to the day when there are permanent inhabitants on Mars.

What portion of this mission interests you the most?

On MRO, it's the constant opportunity to be seeing views of the Martian surface in unprecedented detail. It's pretty cool to be able to send commands to the spacecraft and see it respond from so far away, too.

What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?

It's fascinating to see the huge volumes of data returned from MRO, and realize that we're sending back more data in a month than many deep-space missions send back over their entire mission lifetime.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

It's challenging to accommodate a spacecraft which operates 24 hours a day every day and still have a personal life. Having to be on-call and to work some nights and weekends can be a lot of work; balance and endurance is called for.

What is unique about your job?

The eeDAT role is something where we've had to develop new tools and processes, since no-one at JPL has done things quite this way before. That means I've gotten to do things in a way nobody else has, but it also means I have fewer people to emulate.

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

On MRO, to this point it's probably been just after launch when we were interfacing with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and their tracking station. To be able to announce that they saw MRO telemetry was great. Hurray, we have a spacecraft in flight talking to us; hurray, we all still have jobs! (which had we not heard from MRO after its burn to set itself on the way to Mars would have been in question…)

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


I really wasn’t fixated on any particular career, but I very definitely wanted to go to college.

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

Well, coming to work at JPL for me was rather prosaic. Editing technical documents, even if they do happen to describe systems used for spacecraft, is mostly about words and their proper usage. As my career has advanced here, I’ve gotten much closer to the space side of things, but my original job here was kinda like any other job.

Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?

Humanity needs to have more than one basket to put all of us in. Mars is the next logical place for us to live.

What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?

I really love the American Southwest and seeing the pictures from Mars makes me rejoice that there are other places with similarly-interesting landforms.

Do you work on any other projects at your company?

This is my full-time job for now.

Describe the human side of robotic exploration.

Without humans there are no robots. So really, what we’re doing is human exploration via remote extensions of our humanity.

Do you have any hobbies?

Probably too many. I enjoy backpacking, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and radio-controlled flight. I’m also an amateur astronomer who enjoys looking at the night sky and watching (while wondering) what’s up there.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

I'm really honored to be part of the team that American Taxpayers have funded to do space exploration. I, and we, take very seriously our task to give Americans their money's worth and more. It's also very pleasing that I in my own small way can contribute to humanity's knowledge of our neighbor planet Mars.

Bryan Allen:
  Background Information
  Contributions to Mars Exploration
  Personal Reflections