No banks, stock exchanges or other financial institutions are known to exist on Mars. So how does a business and economics graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara end up in a key role on a mission to the red planet? “When I was in school, I never thought ‘I’m going to be buying parts for spacecraft to go to other planets,'” said Steve Alfery of JPL. But every expedition to a new world needs someone like him — a savvy buyer with knowledge of the marketplace to acquire the unique equipment, supplies and tools that will make the voyage possible. For engineers and scientists, what Alfery does is not rocket science – it’s much harder. For the Mars Exploration Rover mission, Alfery holds the purse strings and brokers the deals. His efforts allow the project’s engineers and scientists to acquire all the materials, machines and services that will become the mission itself.