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Art Thompson
ATLO Systems Lead
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(ATLO: Assembly, Test and Launch Operations.)

My name is Art Thompson, and I'm the ATLO Systems Lead. I'm responsible for making sure that we've got the test complexes set up right, we've got our test personnel down here trained, and we've identified what they're going to do every day, prioritized their task list, and make sure that they've got the resources that they need to actually come down and test the spacecraft. So we're... (where) the action happens.

I always wanted to be either an Air Force pilot or work for NASA. Actually, I was hoping to be an astronaut - I didn't quite make it to an astronaut. But I've always dreamed about working with the space program. I happened into this, met the right people at the right time, while I was in school, got in. But anybody can do this job. We are not superhumans. Basically, we went to school, and we applied, and we got here.

You've got to decide that's what you want to do. This is not like any other job out there. You know, how many people get the opportunity to build a spacecraft that's going to actually go to another planet and then drive around on the planet? In fact, one of the things I like to talk about is, what would you do to have somebody pay you to drive an RC (remote control) vehicle on Mars, because that's essentially what we get to do. We get to design it, we get to build it, we get to test it, take it out and put it on the rocket, and see it go to Mars. And then see those pictures come back as we're actually driving this thing around on Mars. There's nothing like this, nothing like this.

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