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Adam Steltzner
EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing) Lead Mechanical Engineer
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

P2K: How many miles do you think you put in here on Earth to get the EDL system working on Mars?

Adam Steltzner: It's funny you should mention that. I was just thinking that as I was flying back from Seattle. I've traveled somewhere between two hundred and fifty and three hundred thousand miles over the last few years putting this EDL system together. That's going around in the world ten times. I've done it all, all of it, almost all of it, inside the United States, so that's about fifty times of crossing the United States. So I've been bouncing around a lot.

P2K: What do you do on the weekends? Do you have any weekends?

Adam Steltzner: I do have weekends. I used to, before I was working on the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, I used to go and do things away from home on the weekends. Since the Mars Exploration Rovers mission has been going I stay at home and do laundry and relax, and sleep.

P2K: So how do you get people (on the mission and around the country, at the sub-contractors) to share the vision? And to work as hard as they've been working?

Adam Steltzner: It's surprisingly easy to get people to share this vision. The vision of going to Mars, putting a spacecraft on the surface of Mars, is fairly easy to get people excited about. It is plain exciting.

I think there is a gene that, as human beings, we all share - the "curiosity gene," the gene that has us wonder what's out there, what's around the corner. And when people, when these sub-contractors, people at other organizations around the country, have an opportunity to get involved in this, usually they are very, very, very receptive. And in the rare instances that they don't chomp at the bit immediately, if you just share with them the incredible wonderment and excitement that it means to go to Mars, they very quickly become bitten by it and overtaken by their own enthusiasm to participate.

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