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LIVE FROM MARS: lfm

Donna Shirley
Former Manager, Mars Exploration Program
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Since writing this BIOgraphy for LIVE FROM MARS Donna has retired from NASA. She has written a book called Managing Creativity. You can learn more about the book and what Donna is doing at her website.

Who I Am

As manager of the Mars Exploration Program, I manage three flight projects and studies of future missions to Mars. Everyday I deal with scientists trying to understand Mars, and with the technology we need to go to Mars without costing a lot.

An average day on my job consists of going to a lot of meetings. I write plans for how we are going to conduct our programs. I spend a lot of time communicating between the projects and with our NASA sponsors about various aspects of the program. I work with the different projects to get them to use similar processes so that everyone isn't just doing their own thing, because it's cheaper and more efficient.

Since the press release about finding signs of possible past life in the Mars meteorite, I have spent five to 10 hours a week dealing with the media: television, radio, newspapers and magazines. I give a lot of interviews. I also give a lot of talks on the Mars program and write two or three papers a year describing the program.

There's also the management side of the project to take care of, like working with upper management on newer, fairer ways to determine people's salaries. I manange 40 people who work directly for the Mars program office, which means I help them get the support they need to do their jobs.

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