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The Mars Curiosity Rover

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:39 pm
by BagoMaker
This was a fun little project I worked on a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away :

Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror (on YouTube)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki_Af_o9Q9s

Re: The Mars Curiosity Rover

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:12 pm
by spetku
You mean the big Mars rover? That's really amazing! What part of the Curiosity project did you work on specifically? I'm well.... curious. tehe.

I watched that broadcast after the 2012 olympics the night it happened and was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

-Sarah

Re: The Mars Curiosity Rover

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:15 am
by BagoMaker
Yep, Curiosity is the small car sized Rover currently tooling around on Mars. Right now its keeping the geeky geologists at JPL in Pasadena happy by drilling into regolith and rocks, taking pictures and making other measurements. In a few months it should get a lot of press when it starts to look for water in the impact crater near where it landed. Some people are hoping to find past or present signs of life on Mars there. The basic idea in Mars exploration is to "follow the water", as where there is water, there may have been life. There's a lot of evidence to suggest Mars was a warmer, wetter planet eons ago, and may have been suitable for lifeforms to develop. Taking it further, we all may be Martians if life developed there first, and then made it's way to Earth, likely small organisms that hitched a ride on a meteorite that could have been ejected from the planet during a comet impact. Cool stuff to think about, but so far there's no proof.

I worked on the Entry, Decent, and Landing system on and off for ten years from inception to final design and testing (my former employer was a certain well known government agency, I think their initials started with an N and ended with an A, can't remember cause I'm getting old). It didn't burn up on entry, and didn't auger into the planet, so I guess our team did our job. We also had the same role on the previous mission, the Mars Environmental Landers. There were two rovers about a third of the size of the current one, but they had a hard landing cushioned with airbags for the final landing phase and bounced around a bit before coming to rest. They both worked as well and did some nifty stuff.

When the first guy in that YouTube video came up with with the SkyCrane concept and went over it with us during the conceptual design phase, I nearly fell off my chair in the conference room since I thought he was nuts. He also had a young Elvis haircut at the time, which you may find amusing living in Las Vegas. It turned out he was right and we were able to make it work, though slightly over budget.

I'll bet you never thought a former NASA (oops, said the name) rocket scientist would be interested in the Delta Robot Army, but it actually has a lot of commonality with what I'm doing now. Wouldn't surprise me if there are others I used to work with interested in this as well. Pretty cool idea, congratulations for thinking it up and making it happen. The kids in the small town I grew up (and where I have returned) are going to love this. I'm hoping some will follow in my path. Might even organize a mini-mini-mini Maker Faire around it. Besides, the Borg are coming, and perhaps the Daleks, so it's best to be prepared.....

'

Re: The Mars Curiosity Rover

PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:04 pm
by spetku
When I was young, I dreamed of working for NASA. My dad raised me with picture books of all the planets and used to tell me that by the time I grew up, we'd all be living in space and exploring the galaxy. I had aspirations when I was young of going to MIT so that I might work for NASA and get the chance to go up there myself. Once I became a teenager I discovered that math wasn't my strong suit, so I veered down the path of visual arts instead. I've always loved technology and science and it's been a consistent theme in my illustrations throughout my life. It wasn't until very recently that I crossed over into electronics and started doing the work I am now, which is sort of a marriage of the art world I'm used to and robotics (which is still new and exciting). It isn't space exploration, but I'm happy integrating two things I love into my daily work. I've never been happier!

I'm glad that you 'get it' and have an appreciation for what I'm doing =] I'm geeked to know someone who had a part in such an amazing and important project is a fan of my work. My dad and I still follow the news around Curiosity and look at the images it sends back on occasion. I remember watching how ecstatic everyone was at mission control the moment the rover landed safely. It's a wonderful thing to see the excitement that results from someones hard work and passion paying off. I understand that joy- I think it's one of the best feelings in life.

Any how... Thank you again for being one of the first to start writing here. I hope our little community continues to grow over time. =] We'll be in touch.

-Sarah

Re: The Mars Curiosity Rover

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:22 pm
by Arizona_Clark
I can't resist! When Curiosity first landed, I got this mental image of it taking a photo of the landing sight from a few feet away, showing a smashed feline. ("Curiosity killed the cat.")