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

I'm trying not to sound cliché-ish, but this isn't just a job. We're doing something that very few people have an opportunity to ever get to do. And when you think you've been beaten down, when you think that you've reached a point where there's no solution, you find it either in yourself, or oftentimes your colleagues will come by and they'll cheer you up, they'll pep you up, and they'll come up with a solution for you. And I think as a team we carry each other.

P2K: "How do you keep going? How do you get up in the morning and say, 'I've got a 5 o'clock session, I've got to get there.' How do you come to work with the right attitude when you know you're going to get more curveballs and fastballs and some of them are going to hit you?"

Art Thompson: "That's actually part of working a flight project, that's not just unique to ATLO. Before you take this position you've got to understand that that's what this job entails. It's pretty much a couple months of boredom followed by ten, twelve months of terror to get to the pad. And then when we launch these puppies you really can't relax all that much because you're flying with them, and what happens to the spacecraft happens to you. And when they're on the surface and they're driving around, you feel that sense of accomplishment, then there's the relief. But when this project's over, the next job will come along, and you know that when you sign up to do it that this is what you're in for.

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