Locals Play Roles on Mission to Mars

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As the Perseverance rover makes progress on its scientific mission to Mars, many San Diego scientists are playing key roles and making it all possible.

"It's like Christmas every day," said Elsa Jensen, who is the uplink commanding lead for the MASTCAM-Z team. 

That pair of cameras provides a 3D view similar to what human eyes would see --only better.

Megan Wu is the operations lead for the Watson camera on the Sherloc instrument, which is on the end of the rover's arm. 

Both Jensen and Wu work for Malin Space Science Systems, in San Diego.

Jensen said watching the Perseverance land on Mars was "surreal," and even more excitement for her team came a couple days after that.

"Day 3 was the big deal," Jensen said. "We took a panorama -- full panorama -- with our cameras, and it came down beautifully," Jensen said, "And we were able to share that with the world."

Both scientists have been working on the mission at Malin Space Science Systems for years before the Perseverance even landed on Mars.

"So everything has been actually going incredibly smoothly," Wu said, "It's been really rewarding to have all of that pre-work kind of pay off for us."

"My kids and their kids are going to be looking at this data for a long time, and I think to be involved in the initial part of that, just this great scientific research that so many people are going to be looking at for so many years, is going to be really cool," Wu said.

The scientists said they hope their work inspires young people to pursue a career in science or whatever field is their passion.

"You know, show some perseverance," Jensen said. "Use your perseverance to get to your goals and get to do the work that you really want to do."

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