findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Entry, Descent and Landing Operations Manager Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Rob Manning was one of the key participants in NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission, along with Jennifer Trosper, Richard Cook, Wayne Lee, and many others now part of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. Along with Wayne and many others, Rob is working on one of the most critical parts of the entire Mars Exploration Rovers mission: EDL, Entry, Descent and Landing. (But as he says, just about every aspect of the mission is "critical." It's just that EDL all happens within a couple of minutes, during which - if all goes well - the spacecraft will slow from traveling towards Mars at thousands of kilometers per hour to sitting, safe and static, on the surface. In this BIOgraphy, based on what he told us back in 1996-1997, Rob explains how he came to JPL, and what he likes about the challenges inherent in exploring Mars. Then, in excerpts from a 2001 interview, he compares Pathfinder and the Mars Exploration Rovers mission. As you can tell, even in print, Rob's a pretty enthusiastic and upbeat guy, and even with all the hard work, he's having fun.
"...we're going to Mars! We are doing what no human beings ever get a chance to do in their lifetime. This is so exciting: as soon as you step back and look at the big picture of what we are trying to achieve: to get a vehicle on Mars to last for 90 or more Mars days, to go out over the hill, to drive off, to look at that rock over the horizon, to be able to drive and come up to a rock and scratch away and drill into it and actually look at the mineralogy - that's never been done in human history! It's not clear that it's been done in this quadrant of our Milky Way! This is an incredibly exciting thing, and as long as we keep thinking about that, it is fun, and it will be fun for the whole duration."
Rob Manning, in interview with P2K, December 2001.