SotF – Craig Leff – Working on Mars

Thursday 7 August 2014, 7:50 pm - 8:50 pm
At: Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG


Craig Leff

Craig Leff

Unlike most previous space missions where scientists and engineers have weeks or months to plan observations on a known orbital path, Mars rover missions routinely encounter a varying set of surface conditions.

In reaction to this sometimes unpredictable environment, the rover team plan activities every day, under a very different set of time constraints than their predecessors.

What we’ve learned from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, aka Curiosity) has implications for the work being done on upcoming rover missions, such as ExoMars.

We’ll look at the development of the daily processes used to command a rover mission, as well as some of the science.


Craig Leff is a researcher at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL/MSSL), where he is project manager for ExoMars PanCam, a colour stereo camera for the 2018 ExoMars rover mission.

Previously, Craig worked for nearly 20 years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where he was involved in several missions, including the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Project.

He spent five years on MER working on both development and operational phases of the mission, including more than 900 sols of surface operations.

Craig later worked in Madrid on the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), the meteorology instrument on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), aka Curiosity.

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