Jennifer Harris Trosper

A screenshot of old footage featuring Jennifer Trosper. She is standing behind a computer in mission control, wearing a headset. The podcast logo is on the lower left.
Women in STEM
Jennifer Harris Trosper

Specialty: systems engineering

Major Contributions:

Flight director, Mars Pathfinder

Spirit rover mission manager

NASA Project Manager

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Fellow

Image Courtesy of NASA

On January 4, 2004, NASA’s Spirit Rover touched down on Mars to start its five year exploration of the planet.  Originally intended to last only 90 Martian days, the rover continued operations until communications were lost in 2010.  The extraordinary life span of the rover was due to the hard work and ingenuity of the many scientists, engineers, and designers who worked on the project.  

Aerospace engineer and  NASA Deputy Project Manager Jennifer Harris Trosper was part of that team.  Trosper studied aerospace engineering at MIT and USC.  She was inspired to work in the space industry by her dad who told her stories of his career in the 50’s building and testing rockets. 

When Trosper started at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory she was part of the Cassini spacecraft mission.  Her first career connection with Mars was when she was the attitude and information management lead and flight director for the Mars Pathfinder mission.  She then served as the lead systems engineer for the Mars Rovers Project and was a mission manager for the Spirit Rover when it landed in 2004.   As a systems engineer, Trosper must use her communication skills as well as her technical expertise to help bring together the group of engineers and technicians that will create a project as ambitious as a Mars rover.  She designed tests needed to verify that when the Spirit rover touched down, it could begin its study of the planet and be able to transmit its findings back to the scientists on Earth.  Spirit went above and beyond its mission, lasting more than 15 times longer than planned and helping lead to renewed interest in Mars exploration. 

The 2022 documentary Good Night Oppy, about the over decade and a half of exploration and science of the Opportunity rover, features Jennifer Trosper as an on screen participant and expert of all things rover.  Working on every rover that has ever driven on Mars, Trosper is also part of NASA’s Mars 2020 project being named Project Manager in June of 2021 where she continues to lead the way in learning more about our neighbor in space.

Written by Mary Ratliff


Wikipedia: Spirit (Rover)

Wikipedia: Jennifer Trosper


IMDB  – Good Night Oppy

All American Team Biography

See Also:

Watch Good Night Oppy on Amazon Prime Video

NASA’s Spirit Gallery

Ask Curiosity Anything: Mars Rover Takes Reddit Questions