Meet: Helen Mortensen
Mars Exploration Rover Cognizant Engineer for MIPL,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Who I Am
My name is Helen Mortensen. I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California.
I am one of six kids in my family. We had lots of kids in our neighborhood
and we loved to explore the creek near our house, which was a great place
for playing hide and seek and finding tadpoles. We also played baseball
(broke several windows), rode bikes all over Santa Barbara, and went to
I received my Bachelors in Computer Science from the
University of California, Santa Barbara. After meeting a JPL recruiter
at school and interviewing for a programming position that required a
C and Unix background, I soon found myself as a JPL employee. I first
worked as a programmer and later moved into the operations arena. I worked
on Voyager, both the Uranus and Neptune encounters, and Galileo.
What I Do
I'm the Mars Exploration Rover Cognizant Engineer for MIPL. MIPL is the
Multi-mission Imaging Processing Lab, which is an IPN-ISD (Interplanetary
Network Directorate and Information Systems Directorate (formerly TMOD)
facility in the Science Instrument Services area. MIPL is responsible
for the software and staff that will generate the Operational Product
Generation Subsystem (OPGS) data products for Rover Navigation.
I live in Altadena with my husband, Bob (whom I met at JPL), my daughter
Debra, son Tim, cat Patches, dog Mocha and a hamster. The kids keep me
busy with sports and Boy Scouts, and we love to camp whenever we can.
I collect recipes, but never seem to have enough time to experiment, as
my family calls it, but I do make a killer carrot cake.
Working at JPL has been one of the most rewarding
experiences in my life. It has expanded my understanding of the universe
and given me an appreciation for life on earth.