Behind the Spacecraft: From Rockettes to Rockets
As a professional dancer in New York City, NASA-JPL engineer Heather Bottom never forgot her passion for space. Now in Act II of her career, Heather is preparing to send NASA's Perseverance Mars rover to the surface of the Red Planet.
Stay tuned for the premiere: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020
How does it feel? It feels great. Hi my name is Heather bottom and I'm helping prepare the spacecraft that will fly our next Mars rover to the Martian surface. So here we have the rover test facility for the Mars 2020 project. So the goal of Mars 2020 is to collect samples of the surface of Mars and perform lots of other exciting experiments. There are seven different instruments on the rover. Some of the work that's being done here right now is integrating the arm and the mast. My role is mostly on the systems engineering of the launch and cruise phases of the mission. It's essentially getting it to Mars. As a systems engineer you kind of have to put those different pieces together and make sure that those pieces all are going to work. You get to kind of see the bigger picture. Before the rover actually flies you have to make sure that everything works properly with the flight software and the hardware. So I have a really unique story. I actually ended up becoming a professional dancer in New York and I really like lived that out to its fullest and wear all the makeup and rhinestones and things but for some reason I, I always knew I was going to come back to this kind of curiosity that I've always had with space. There's some of that creativity here too. Sometimes I feel like we're kind of like the stagehands in this big production for the rover. It's bringing together a bunch of people, it's making sure that the hardware works and it's kind of similar to a performance where like on launch day it'll be the opening night which is what we're all here for.
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