The Curiosity Rover: The Challenges of Landing and Working on Mars

Michael Watkins, Ph.D.
Mission Manager, Curiosity Mars Rover  and Manager, Science Division
NASA Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Curiosity Mars Rover has captivated the world and reinvigorated our collective spirit of exploration.  We will highlight the challenges in system engineering, design, and operations that the team overcame in making this mission such an overwhelming success, and will look toward the future challenges of Mars exploration and the larger space program, many of which resonate with challenges faced in the larger technology community. Specific challenges include multidisciplinary team building, balancing high performance new technology against lower risk existing capabilities, staying within critical mass and power limitations, the development and verification of complex software systems, and others.