Perseverance is the third Mars rover for Melissa Rice, a planetary scientist at Western Washington University. And the fact that she’s based in Bellingham, Wash., more than 1,200 miles from Pasadena, means she’s had plenty of experience with working remotely.
It all started when she was a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech and JPL, where she worked on the Opportunity and Curiosity missions.
“Because the whole mission is so well set up for remote operations, often the science team would be calling in to our meetings from their various offices at JPL, rather than being in the physical room together, just because we have that teleconferencing capability set up so well,” Rice recalled. “So, when I left JPL and started my position here at Western Washington in Bellingham, it took quite a while for some of my colleagues to realize that I wasn’t just down the hall.”