Pasadena, California (CNN) - On Earth, Scott Maxwell drives his red Prius without paying much attention to the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. He's lived in the same neighborhood of Pasadena for 18 years, after all.
When he's driving on Mars, though, every rock he encounters is a new discovery, a step toward humanity's knowledge of the planet he hopes to visit some day.
Maxwell has the dream job of driving rovers on Mars, and he's gearing up to take control of the biggest and most sophisticated one yet: Curiosity. He's one of about a dozen people at NASA tasked with steering the $2.6 billion vehicle from more than 100 million miles away.
"It's a priceless national asset that happens to be sitting on the surface of another planet," Maxwell says of the rover, which landed Monday morning. "You better take that damn seriously."