What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?
Dont let "no" or "cant" stop you. It may very well be that something is so hard or impossible that you have to let go and try something else. But if you believe in what you are doing. dont let others tell you to stop because you just might find out that the path you are on or near WILL work. Patiently talk yourself into or out of your idea on your own terms.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I would like to continue to lead exceptional people and to bring out the best in them.
What are your dreams for the future of exploration?
I would love to be alive when we discover that life (even single cell organisms) is or has been outside of planet Earth living elsewhere in the solar system or beyond. I say "when" because I have become convinced that single cell life could - even improbably - fly between the solid bodies in the solar system (including Mars) and COULD have set up shop. Since life has been on Earth for such a long time, there have been many many opportunities for life to travel via and within meteor debris. It would thrill me to know that natures interplanetary spacecraft have been around for billions of years and that we are simply carrying on a long tradition within this wonderful web of life.
What portion of this mission interests you the most?
Each mission I have worked has contributed a chapter or more in our understand of the solar system,
What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?
That we are carrying on a tradition and pattern of exploration that our distant ancestors have set about.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
What is unique about your job?
I am very very lucky to have had major roles on a lot of Mars missions. My 12 year old vision for my career has come true.
What’s the most extraordinary experience you've had so far on this mission?
Attempting to grapple with the enormous complexity of MSL over years of work. MSL has been the hardest by far.
When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Astronaut. Then inventor. Then space explorer. Then roboticist. Then scientist. Then engineer. Of course I had no idea what any of these jobs were really all about.
When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?
12 years old. Ironically I never once believed that I could do it. My world was so far away that it seemed more like a fantasy than anything real. By the time I graduated from high school I still had never met a real engineer in person.
Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?
I think all exploration is important. Whether it is exploring the plants in your back yard or learning how to make your own music or a web site, exploration is central to who we are as humans.