Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BRING THE UNIVERSE TO YOU JPL Email News RSS Mobile Video
JPL Banner
Mars Science Laboratory
Home

MISSION

MISSION

Women's Curiosity Day: Role Models for Rover Operations


  • Women Play a Big Part of Daily Operations
    1/14

    June 26, 2014, is a special day, honoring the contributions of women on the mission team and providing career role models in science and engineering. On “Women’s Curiosity Day,” women gathered to fill a majority (75%) of all the rover-operation jobs. Approximately 100 people staffed operations that day. In general, it takes about 90 people to operate a Mars rover each day.
  • Distributed Teams
    2/14

    Each day on Earth, a team of scientists and engineers from operations centers and individual offices around the world plan what the rover will be doing: receiving commands, driving, using its science instruments and robotic arm, checking its health, and sending back data.
  • Discovery Drives Planning
    3/14

    Discovery drives this process, so the operations team never knows exactly what they’ll be doing. It all depends on what tasks Curiosity was able to complete, what the rover has just found on Mars, and how it’s working. For example, if Curiosity sends a picture of an interesting rock, scientists on the team may decide they want to drive to it the next day. Engineers make sure it is safe for the rover to do so.
  • Clocking in to Work
    4/14

    Mars rover Curiosity “clocks in" to work daily, checking off its “to do list” from the mission team. Tasks can include things like driving to a rock, studying it with the robotic arm, using its laser, or taking photos. At key points, Curiosity might scoop soil or drill into a rock.
  • "Phoning Home"
    5/14

    Before the rover “clocks out” and goes to sleep, it sends the most important data it has collected to an orbiter, which then relays it back to Earth. Any information it doesn’t have time to communicate is stored on board, ready for the next time an orbiter passes by overhead, which might require a wake-up at night.
  • There’s No Joystick!
    6/14

    Because radio signals from Earth take 4 to 24 minutes to reach Mars, you can’t steer a rover in real time, and the team also has to wait for the data to get back. When the mission team receives photos and other data, it is called “downlink.” The workday begins for the operations team back home with the examination of downlink from the rover’s previous day on Mars.
  • Three Processes in Parallel for Planning a Rover’s To Do List
    7/14

    During normal operations, three processes happen at the same time: tactical, supra-tactical, and strategic planning. For each process, the team must follow a highly defined set of steps.
  • The Tactical Process: Near-Term Look
    8/14

    During the “tactical” process, the tactical downlink team checks the health and status of the rover, studies the images and other science data sent back from the rover, and prepares an activity plan for the next one-to-three Martian days.
  • The Supra-Tactical Process: 2 to 5 Days in the Future
    9/14

    At the same time, a “Supra-Tactical” process gives a slightly longer look ahead and contains up to a five-day plan, preparing “skeleton” activity plans with just some of the key activities that are known in advance.
  • The Strategic Process: A Month Ahead and Beyond
    10/14

    The other parallel process is a “strategic” look at what’s coming up in the month ahead and beyond. Once a week, on Thursdays, this culminates in a meeting to summarize the new strategic plan. Since June 26 is a Thursday, this meeting will happen on “Women’s Curiosity Day.”
  • The Uplink: Sending Commands to the Rover
    11/14

    Once a tactical plan or “to do list” is put together, the next step is to send the commands through radio signals to the rover. This part of the process is called “uplink.” Typically, the team sends only one set of commands (the order and kinds of tasks it must do) to Curiosity each weekday. These commands arrive on-board Curiosity in the morning on Mars, giving her a new to do list each day.
  • Interplanetary Communications!
    12/14

    The mission team sends Curiosity's commands (uplink) using the Deep Space Network. The network links together antennas spaced around the world in California’s Mojave Desert; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia. These antennas also receive downlinks from the rover, through Mars orbiters.
  • Another Day at the Office
    13/14

    After each team member completes their assigned role, which might be examining tactical downlink, preparing tactical uplink, supratactical planning, or strategic planning, they can go home and eagerly await the next day’s results.
  • All in A Day’s Work
    14/14

    After receiving uplinked commands and performing its work, Curiosity sends the data back in the downlink. With each completed downlink, the cycle begins anew, and the team wakes up to another day of work on the rover mission!
Women Play a Big Part of Daily Operations Distributed Teams Discovery Drives Planning Clocking in to Work "Phoning Home" There’s No Joystick! Three Processes in Parallel for Planning a Rover’s To Do List The Tactical Process: Near-Term Look The Supra-Tactical Process: 2 to 5 Days in the Future The Strategic Process: A Month Ahead and Beyond The Uplink: Sending Commands to the Rover Interplanetary Communications! Another Day at the Office All in A Day’s Work

Women Career Role Models - Videos

Meet some of the women team members and hear about the exciting and challenging jobs they do in science and engineering while working with Mars rover Curiosity.

Watch the video 'Woman Working on Mars: Mallory Lefland' Watch the video 'Woman Working on Mars: Erisa Hines' Watch the video 'Woman Working on Mars: Amanda Steffy' Watch the video 'Woman Working on Mars: Jaime Catchen'

Women's Curiosity Day Timeline

TACTICAL ACTIVITIES Downlink Pass Activity Downlink Briefing Subsystem Poll Sol n Plan Fragment Development (process) Tactical Activity Coordination Tag-up Meeting Plan Fragment Delivery Deadline Science Operations Working Group Meeting Engineering Tag-up Activity Refinement Deadline Activity Plan Approval Meeting Sequence Development (process) Master/Submaster Walkthrough Sequence Delivery Deadline Sequence Report Walkthrough Command Approval Meeting Command Readiness Deadline Uplink for this plan ="SUPRA-TACTICAL Long-Term Planning Tag-up Sol n+1 Kickoff Skeleton Plan Tag-up Sol n+1 Plan Fragment Development (process) Look Ahead Plan Meeting STRATEGIC ACTIVITIES Science Discussion Strategic Planning Meeting This is a timeline showing the rover's daily operation schedule. Curiosity has three parallel processes going on at the same time: tactical (shown in yellow), supra-tactical (shown in orange), and strategic planning (shown in blue). There are several steps under each process.

Women's Curiosity Day Participation Map

Deep Space Network antena station Deep Space Network antena station Deep Space Network antena station This world map shows the location and concentration of the Curiosity science team members (represented by orange dots). A large orange circle shows that the majority of the team members (50) are in southern California. There are team members in Canada and Europe too. Blue circles note the three Deep Space Network stations and they are located in California's Mojave Desert; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia.
Track uplinks and downlinks to Mars spacecraft (and more!) in real-time through the Deep Space Network, antennas on Earth that make space exploration possible!



Pictures of the Day

Participating from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA

Downlink Team
Downlink Team
Near-Term Look Team
Near-Term Look Team
Strategic Mission Planning Team
Strategic Mission Planning Team
LAPM Team
LAPM Team
Curiosity Day Women At Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
Curiosity Day Women At Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
Curiosity Day Women At Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
Curiosity Day Women At Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena

Participating from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD

Jennifer Eigenbrode working on Women's Curiosity Day
Jennifer Eigenbrode working on Women's Curiosity Day

Participating from Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA

Women working at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA
Women working at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA
Women holding a panoramic poster of 'Gale Crater, Mars' at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA

Participating from
APXS Operations Center

at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Glynis Perrett and Irina Pradler from APXS Operations Center in Guelph, Ontario, Canada working on Women's Curiosity Day

Participating from
Centro de Astrobiologia

in Madrid, Spain

Women from Centro de Astrobiologia in Madrid, Spain on Women's Curiosity Day

Participating from
French Instrument Mars Operation Centre for MSL (FIMOC)
in Toulouse, France

Women from French Instrument Mars Operation Centre for MSL (FIMOC) in Toulouse, France on Women's Curiosity Day

Participating from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM

Women from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM on Women's Curiosity Day
Women from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM on Women's Curiosity Day
Women from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM on Women's Curiosity Day




It Takes a Team

Both men and women from many diverse backgrounds operate NASA���s Mars Rover Curiosity. It takes about 100 people to plan and send commands that tell the rover what to do, plus make sure the rover is healthy and performing well.

On June 26, 2014, women working on the Mars Science Laboratory mission gathered to fill as many roles as possible all at once - 75% of the rover operations jobs.

Find out all about team members working that day, along with the kinds of jobs they did on June 26:

OVERALL

PROVIDING TEAM LEADERSHIP

SCIENCE

PLANNING CURIOSITY'S SCIENCE WORK TELLING CURIOSITY HOW TO USE ITS SCIENCE INSTRUMENTS

ENGINEERING

TELLING CURIOSITY WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO MONITORING CURIOSITY'S HEALTH & PERFORMANCE


EXPLORING MARS, SEEKING SIGNS OF HABITABILITY

Selfie of Mars Rover Curiosity

CURIOSITY
Mars Rover

Job:
Robot Geologist
NASA JPL-Caltech
Gale Crater, Mars

In her role as robot geologist, Curiosity is exploring Gale Crater, on a quest to understand Mars as a potential habitat for microbial life in Mars' ancient past. Through communications uplinks, she* responds to the commands of her mission team, and through communications downlinks, sends back reports on health and discoveries eagerly awaited on Earth!

*Ancient mariners and explorers throughout history have a tradition of calling their ships and voyaging craft "she" and "her."



Mars Yard Photos

Meet Many of the Women of Mars!
Meet Many of the Women of Mars!
Mars Moms: Curiosity isn't Our Only Baby!
Mars Moms: Curiosity isn't Our Only Baby!
Check Out What's in MY Garage!
Check Out What's in MY Garage!
Smiles All Around!
Smiles All Around!
Hanging Out with Test Rover
Hanging Out with Test Rover
Climbing to New Heights of Experience
Climbing to New Heights of Experience
Sifting through the
Sifting through the "Martian Soil"
Mars Mission Managers
Mars Mission Managers

Meet the Women of Mars!

These are pictures of some of the women working on the Curiosity rover taken in the "Mars Yard," a simulated martian landscape right here at JPL.

The JPL Mars Yard is used by the research and flight projects to test different robotic prototypes. This facility provides a large test area and an outdoor environment to test different robotic applications under natural lighting conditions. The soil characteristics are matched to some regions on Mars, and the rock colors, sizes and distribution are intended to match images from our Martian missions.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



USA.gov
PRIVACY     FAQ     SITEMAP     FEEDBACK     IMAGE POLICY