...who drives a Mars rover? (with Hallie Abarca)
Play • 23 min

When this episode airs, NASA will be just one day away from landing another rover on Mars. On February 18, the Perseverance rover will reach the surface of the Red Planet, capping off a journey that started with a rocket launch last July.

In an earlier episode, we talked with Matthew Frost about Perseverance’s robot arm, and how it works to collect samples from the Martian surface. But that robot arm becomes a lot more useful when you can drive it around Mars. And that takes a whole team of dedicated rover drivers back here on Earth.

Do you ever wonder who drives a Mars rover?

We were lucky to chat with Hallie Abarca, a former Mars rover driver and software engineer on the Perseverance rover at NASA JPL. She talks about what it was like to drive other Mars rovers, working on “Mars time,” and a new JPL website where you can virtually drive across the surface of Mars from your home.

Have a question you've been wondering about? Send an email to everwonder@californiasciencecenter.org to tell us what you'd like to hear in future episodes.

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