Mars Rover Driver Dr. Jeng Yen Discusses The Age of Space Exploration Ep 126

19 April 2021


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A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:


Dr. Jeng Yen is a NASA scientist and the “driver” of the Perseverance Mars rover. I initially interviewed Dr. Yen on April 9th. We spoke about how he was first inspired to join NASA by the first Mars rover Sojourner, what’s been discovered about Mars since then, the work of Mars rover Perseverance and the Mars helicopter Ingenuity which is poised to be the first aircraft to fly on Mars.


I spoke with Dr. Yen again this past Friday, April 16th and he gave me an important update on the Mars helicopter Ingenuity which has had to delay the date of its first flight on Mars.


We are excited to learn that on Monday April 19th Ingenuity has indeed made history as the first aircraft humans have flown on another planet- Mars! You can watch the first flight of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter live from mission control here on YouTube:


I’m so pleased to be sharing my full interview with Dr. Yen on this momentous day.



Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:


  • How Dr. Yen’s interest in working for NASA was inspired by the first rover on Mars the Sojourner in 1997
  • How Dr. Yen’s previous work in Minnesota on army high performance computing involved vehicle design
  • What it’s like to live and work in Mars time
  • The Mars helicopter Ingenuity
  • The four Mars exploration missions that Dr. Yen has been on and what each accomplished
  • Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity’s discovery that there was past surface water on Mars
  • Mars rover Curiosity and where it is in relation to the Perseverance rover
  • What the interface used to drive the rover is like
  • The Phoenix lander mission
  • The InSight mission which is still running and learning about the core of Mars
  • What happens if a part of the Perseverance rover breaks
  • What happened when the Curiosity rover dropped its drill
  • How long Perseverance will be on Mars
  • The power that Perseverance runs on that allows it to last for years
  • What is involved in landing a rover
  • How video footage of Perseverance’s landing was captured
  • How the Mars helicopter Ingenuity communicates with the Perseverance rover
  • China’s plans to land a rover on Mars
  • How Perseverance will be taking samples from Mars to see if there is any evidence of life on Mars and how these samples will be found and retrieved by a future rover
  • If Elon Musk’s SpaceX could be the first to land humans on Mars
  • Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin
  • Will it be possible to colonize Mars in the next 30 years
  • Which planet surface will NASA explore next
  • The Europa clipper
  • Why NASA uses the discovery of water as a standard to explore for life
  • The Phoenix lander mission
  • Where the name “Perseverance” for the current Mars rover came from
  • Who names the Mars rovers
  • The quest to answer the question are we alone in this universe
  • STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education
  • How Dr. Yen founded the San Marino High School FRC (First Robotics Competition)
  • Dr. Yen’s advice for people interested in working in the field of space exploration or aeronautics



Related Links:


About Dr Jeng Yen:


NASA Website:


NASA YouTube channel:


NASA on Twitter:


NASA on Facebook:


NASA on Twitch:


Watch NASA’s Perseverance Rover Land on Mars! (Full video and reporting on NASA’s Perseverance Rover):


Nasa Mars rover: Key questions about Perseverance:


First Flight of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter: Live from Mission Control:


Sojourner NASA’s first rover on Mars:


Info about the Mars rovers:


Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity:


Mars rover Curiosity:


Europa Clipper:


Phoenix Mars lander:


InSight mission:


Who names NASA’s Mars Rovers?


NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter: First Flight Attempt on Mars Ep 124


Professor Scott Simon: Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples and Their Connection to Ecology Ep 99


Suelain and Otter: How to Combat Asian Hate Ep 122


Understanding the History of Taiwan through Dr. Jerome Keating Ep 97

  • Leigh and Carol Pan says:

    Wonderful work on the Mars Rover driver !

    • Felicia Lin says:

      Thanks for listening! A lot of hard work went into the production of this episode and we are proud of how it turned out. We really appreciate your support!

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