MAVEN: Q&A with Mark Lankton

Published: Nov. 15, 2013

Q: What is your role on MAVEN?

A: On MAVEN, I am the instrument manager for the Remote Sensing Package. This instrument is an imaging ultraviolet spectrograph that looks at the chemistry going on in the Mars atmosphere, measuring the constituents by the characteristic UV light they emit. I worked with an amazing team of scientists, engineers and technicians who designed and built the complicated instrument, and with the equally outstanding people who will operate it in space.


Q: What has been the most exciting milestone of the mission so far?

A: It's hard to pick a "most exciting milestone so far", because the whole process of designing, building, launching and operating an instrument in space is a long series of critical milestones and there is always another one still to come. Getting MAVEN selected to go to Mars in the first place was wonderful. Delivering a great instrument to be installed on the MAVEN spacecraft was a proud accomplishment for the whole Remote Sensing team. Launch will be a nail-biter. Real success for me will come when we start getting data back from Mars; that's the point of the exercise.


Q: What is your favorite part about the MAVEN mission?

A: As a mission, MAVEN has been a pleasure to work on. It's doing interesting science, it has been well-managed at every level, and all of the teams across the project are "A-Teams" who really know their stuff. Just for me personally, MAVEN is special because it's my last planet. When it launches I will be able to say that I've held things in my hands that have been sent to every planet in the solar system.