Interview: The driver behind NASA's Mars Rovers - part two

“Other than setting foot on Mars myself, I can't imagine anything better than driving the Mars rover,” says Ashley Stroupe, one of the 14 NASA Mars Rover Drivers.

In order to plot the Rover's next moves you must need to "become a robot" in a way, as an actor needs to become his or her character. Do you find that you think more like a robot in your everyday life from doing this job?

Actually we tend more often to attribute the rover's ability to think like us, than the other way around. But yes, we do have to think like a robot sometimes, which means very linear and literal thinking. The robot will always do exactly what you tell it to -- it just may not be what you thought you told the rover to do. Since a lot of what I do is working with computers, this kind of thinking is applicable in a lot of places. But outside work I occasionally find myself thinking that way - usually in humour.

Would you describe your job as a "dream tech-job"?

My job is absolutely a dream job. Other than setting foot on Mars myself, I can't imagine anything better than driving the Mars rover. Not only are we getting to work with the coolest robots in the solar system, but we're also helping to contribute to our fundamental understanding of our solar system by helping the scientists make the observations they need to make.

Read the interview with Scott Maxwell here.

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Dahna McConnachie

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