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Meet: Diana Blaney

Mars Scientist,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Image of Diana Blaney holding up a target for the rover
(Diana holding up a target for the rover's)

Who I Am
I grew up in Ashville, Ohio where I went to Teays Valley High School. I've always wanted to be a scientist (although what kind varied). First it was a paleontologist, and then when I was in sixth grade I read a book about a team of astronauts who explored the solar system and other stars-the captain was a physicist. So not really knowing what physics was I decided that I would be one and explore the solar system. I went to college at Ohio State where I majored in Engineering Physics. While in college, I realized that rather than doing research in physics, I was really more interested in using physics to study how planets work. So after college I went to Hawaii and looked at Mars through telescopes to try and figure out what it is made of and got a PhD. After Hawaii, I came to JPL and have been doing science research ever since. I mostly do research on Mars, Io, and Europa.

What I Do
My job on the mission is to worry about how the engineering (stuff being built) and science (what we want to learn about Mars) fit together. One of the instruments on the rover is Mini-TES. I basically check to make sure that no one accidentally does anything that will hurt the science that Mini-TES will do when it gets to Mars. Once the instrument is on Mars, I'll get to help take data and then actually get to analyze the data and figure out what it means.

I have a bunch of different skills that meshed together well for this job. Because I have a degree in engineering, I have the basic knowledge I need to understand how the rover works. My science research through telescopes is not too different from what the Mini-TES instrument will be doing--figuring out what Mars is made of--so I know how to analyze and interpret the data.

I get to learn a bunch of different things-everything from building the rover to calibrating Mini-TES to learning how to operate the mission. My least favorite part of my job is that I have to go to a lot of meetings to listen--and the part I care about sometimes only takes a few minutes. However, the best part is going to be actually taking data after we land.

In the future I want to keep doing scientific research about Mars (and other solar system bodies) and work on more instruments and missions to explore them up close.

Free Time!
I live in Altadena, California. I have two cats (Sage and Rufus) that have to stay indoors (much to their dislike). My house is a few miles from the Angeles Crest National Forest so I see coyotes around pretty regularly (also raccoons, possums, and skunks). I try to go hiking in the neighborhood on a regular basis. However, I really like getting to the ocean where I boogie board (I learned in Hawaii). I wear a wet suit though, since the water in California is so cold.


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