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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Flight System Engineer
NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Project
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
P2K What does that mean on a daily basis?
Nagin Cox On a daily basis, it means that we have a team of about 80 people that are all working on various parts of the mission trying to get prepared for when we're actually going to fly the spacecraft. Right now-given how close we are to launch- we are involved in a series of operational readiness tests. These tests are basically dress rehearsals for what we're going to be doing for real in just a few weeks. The engineering team is actually split into a couple of different parts. One that deals with cruise and one that deal with preparations for surface operations. "Cruise" is what we call the time period while we are flying to Mars. The surface team folks are focusing on what we'll be doing when we actually get to Mars- first the entry, descent and landing and then normal operations once we're on the surface.
P2K I guess kids are used to rehearsing for plays and practicing for sports....what are you trying to do when you do these tests?
Nagin Cox We are trying to do very similar things to what you just described. We practice the steps. Thus, so just as in theatre when you're doing a rehearsal, everybody has to figure out where they stand, when do they come in, what do they do, how do they interact with other people-it is the same for us. We each individually know what our jobs are supposed to be. This is more about blending it with everyone else and making it a chorus that all works well together.