Mike Malin
Mars Global Surveyor and Surveyor 98 Cameras

Mike standing at the South Pole, holding the American flag that marks the location

After I graduated with my Ph.D. (in Geology and Planetary Science), I worked for four years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where I was able to participate in both the Viking and Voyager missions in a support role. I left JPL in the late 1970s, when the space program entered a period of reduced spaceflights and taught geology at Arizona State University in Tempe. There I broadened my research experience by collaborating with other scientists who studied the Earth rather than other planets, and I began research programs studying volcanoes (I was at Mount St. Helens within a month of its major eruption in 1980), water erosion processes in deserts (in parts of Arizona and Utah, and in Iceland), and wind erosion (in Iceland and Antarctica). All of these research topics are relevant to Mars, which remained the planet in which I was most interested, although I also conducted planetary science studies of Venus, Mercury, the Moon, and the satellites of Jupiter during this period.

The Things I Like Best and Least About My Job

When I was young, I promised myself that I would never work at a job that wasn't fun. I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to keep this promise. The best thing about my work is that it involves so many different things--like writing, speaking, traveling, studying, hiking and camping. If I get bored or frustrated with any given job, I can put it aside for awhile and work on something else. Often I can work on several things at the same time. And all are fun.

The thing I like the least about my job is that there is so much work to do that I can't do it all myself. I have had to learn to let other people do things instead of me. I don't like this since usually it was something I wanted to do myself. Working with a team is much harder than working alone. However, teams can do much more than individuals, and so the rewards can be much greater when everyone works well together. And it can be fun having others with whom you can share ideas and experiences.

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