“Dare Mighty Things” for NASA/JPL Mars 2020 rover

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“Dare Mighty Things” is the motto of the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. And that’s just what they’re doing as they gear up for Mars 2020, the sequel to the Curiosity rover and the next phase in NASA’s ongoing Mars Exploration program.

I had pleasure of learning more about the mission and meeting Tracy Van Houten when she spoke at our Genius of Things Summit in Boston. And her talk was amazing! Watch for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean, including why you can’t joystick the rover.


Tracy Van Houten, at the recent Genius of Things Summit in Boston.

Verficiation and validation project lead, Tracy Van Houten, at the recent Genius of Things Summit in Boston.

Testing starts Nov. 1

She’s literally a rocket scientist, although her official title is verification and validation project lead. That means Ms. Van Houten is in charge of the test program for Mars 2020. And because that test program officially kicks off today, I first want to give her and the team our best wishes for success! These next two and a half years will be critical to the success of Mars 2020, and we know the entire team is up to the task.

As she shared in her talk, NASA turned to the IBM Continuous Engineering Suite, specifically our DOORS Next Generation solution to create a better testing program. With it, they now have a collaborative, integrated design hub with 620 members. That means they no longer need to manage 100+ spreadsheets to keep the mission on track. Instead, they’ve captured 125,000 items and carefully mapped them for all the testing, analysis and inspections to come.



Based on the Curiosity rover, Mars 2020 is auto-sized at 10 ft. long. But at 2,314 lbs., it weighs less than a compact car.

Based on the Curiosity rover, Mars 2020 is auto-sized at 10 ft. long. But at 2,314 lbs., it weighs less than a compact car.

In Ms. Van Houten’s world, you only get one shot to get it right. Then it’s off to the next science challenge. On behalf of IBMers everywhere, thank you for choosing us as a partner on this universal adventure. And again, best wishes!

To learn more about the Mars 2020 mission, visit

IBM DOORS Next Generation is a web-based collaborative requirements management tool for IoT. It can help project teams work more effectively across disciplines, time zones and supply chains. Learn more.


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