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Penn State Alumnus Takes Photos from Mars

10 November 2021
Maimone in suit sits at desk

For years, Penn State graduate Michael Maimone has enjoyed taking photos—anything from nature to people to motorsports. But now he has a new subject: the planet Mars. In January 2021, Maimone joined Malin Space Science Systems, a group that designs and operates cameras and instruments used in commercial space flights, including NASA’s orbiters and rovers on Mars. In his current role as a mission operations specialist, Maimone helps operate the cameras on the Mars Curiosity Rover, analyze the data it collects, and search for signs of life on the red planet. 

“This is where my passion lies and where my exceptional Penn State education has taken me: to the forefront of planetary science research, Mars exploration, and operating the camera systems on Mars Rover Curiosity firsthand,” he said. 

Curiosity touched down on Mars in 2012 and was joined in 2020 by another rover, Perseverance, whose cameras Malin Space Science Systems also operates.

Maimone graduated in 2019 with a major in Planetary Science and Astronomy and a minor in Astrobiology from the Eberly College of Science and with a major in Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences and a minor in Climatology from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Curiosity rover on rocky surface of Mars
NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech