Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 16, October 26, 2012
Mark Century


Before an audience of hundreds in the EMPAC concert hall, the panel shared the challenges of designing the launch vehicle, spaceship, and rover, surviving the spectacular “seven minutes of terror” between space and the Martian surface, and some of the findings (including 3-D images) transmitted to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Photo by Kris Qua

Mars Curiosity Team Members Speak at Reunion & Homecoming

The Rensselaer community got a “behind-the-scenes” multimedia tour of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission and Curiosity rover from some well-placed friends at NASA during Reunion & Homecoming weekend.

School of Science Dean Laurie Leshin was joined by Michael Meyer ’74, Kobie Boykins ’96, and Fred Serricchio ’94. Their presentation touched on the challenges of designing and landing a rover large enough to roam the Red Planet while performing scientific analysis of rocks and soils along the way, the promise of settling the question of whether or not Mars was ever capable of supporting life (perhaps even finding evidence of ancient life), and some of the fascinating details the rover has already turned up.

Leshin is a member of the NASA scientific team that envisioned and built the new rover and is now helping to analyze data it is producing; Meyers is lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington; Boykins was responsible for each of the actuators that move the pieces of Curiosity; and Serricchio was responsible for the Cruise Flight software that allowed the spaceship to use sun and stars to navigate.

A video of the presentation is available online at Rensselaer’s YouTube channel.


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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 16, October 26, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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