Dr. Nicola Sarzi-Amade
Programs Chair, AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section
Vice President, Scorpius Space Launch Company
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission’s Curiosity rover, the most technologically advanced rover ever built, landed in Mars’ Gale Crater the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT) using a series of complicated landing maneuvers never before attempted. The specialized landing sequence, which employed a giant parachute, a jet-controlled descent vehicle and a bungee-like apparatus called a “sky crane,” was devised because tested landing techniques used during previous rover missions could not safely accommodate the much larger and heavier rover. Curiosity’s mission is to determine whether the Red Planet ever was, or is, habitable to microbial life. The rover, which is about the size of a MINI Cooper, is equipped with 17 cameras and a robotic arm containing a suite of specialized laboratory-like tools and instruments.
Curiosity has ingested its first solid sample into an analytical instrument inside the rover, a capability at the core of the two-year mission. The rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing this sample to determine what minerals it contains. The first Martian rock NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached out to touch presents a more varied composition than expected from previous missions. The rock also resembles some unusual rocks from Earth’s interior.
Dr. Michael Watkins is the Mission Manager of the Mars Science Laboratory Project, managing all aspects of flight operations development, along with Mission Design and Navigation, prior to launch, and leading development of surface operations prior to landing.
Dr. Adam D. Steltzner is a Principal Member of the Engineering Staff at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is currently the Manager of the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) phase of the Mars Science Laboratory project.
Mr. Allen Chen is a systems engineer in the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Systems and Advanced Technologies group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). On the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team, he is the EDL operation lead, co-leads the joint science/engineering Mars atmosphere characterization team, and is the EDL flight dynamics lead.
Dr Anita Sengupta is a senior systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She has been designing propulsion and entry systems for the past decade. She is currently the project manager for the Cold Atom Laboratory, an international space station instrument under development. Prior to this she held various positions including parachute systems engineer for MSL,
Mr. Bobak Ferdowsi is a Flight Director and member of the Engineering Operations Team on of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Dr. Keith Comeaux was the Engineering Operations Team Chief and served as Flight Director during NASA’s Curiosity rover landing on Mars on the night of August 5, 2012. He is now one of several Mission Managers working on “Mars time” to ensure safe and productive surface operations as Curiosity begins its scientific exploration of Mars at Gale Crater.
(Full biographies are available here