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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers

Tom Shain
ATLO Logistics Manager
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

I know at times they would like to take me out behind the truck and beat the h*** out of me because I get pretty tough on them, saying "let's stay together," "let's slow it down," "be careful," and what have you, and these guys are used to trucking. You turn them loose on their own they drive pretty hard, whereas when they're with us they're under controlled driving elements.

Road food
We always have a joke. The guys know that I like biscuits and gravy, being raised in southern Missouri, but they're always saying, "Hey, Shain, there's a place up the road here that's got the best biscuits and gravy between California and Florida." Well, not always true. Sometimes it turns out it's their favorite truck stop. I said, now, wait a minute, guys, you've fooled me a couple of times but it don't work anymore. Honestly, we do have a place where we stop in Texas, and we've been able to stop there a couple of times, that has an excellent buffet and we try to sort of time it where we either make their luncheon buffet, or their supper buffet. So there are some of our favorites as we're traveling across that we have some of this wonderful "gourmet food." In most cases I don't recall anybody ever getting food poisoning. There's times you look at the food and you think you might, but we seem to always survive it.

The best part of my job
The best part of my job probably is seeing these things land on the planet and knowing that you played a fairly major role in making this success. I've worked nineteen missions, this is my nineteenth, and may or may not be my last. There's still a possibility I may work one more, CloudSat, going out of Vanderberg sometime next year. I have to give that some serious consideration. But (the best part) is knowing that things that are going to other planets, and landing on other planets, that you've actually, you know, touched them with your own hands, and your "handprints" aren't necessarily on there but part of you is with it. It may not be physically, but for d*** sure there's a lot of you with that hardware that's going to these other places.

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