As the Perseverance rover landed on the Mars surface last week, Darin Skelly watched from his living room, with engineering notes in hand. A former NASA engineer and operations integrator, Skelly supported many of the early Mars-focused missions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), for example, Skelly specialized in the integration between satellites and robotic vehicles.
Skelly has since moved from NASA to Peraton, a Herndon, VA-based national-security company that supports all of the communication systems for the Deep Space Network. The international array of 70-meter antennas provides the communication links between the engineers on Earth and the mission and science instruments on Mars.