This presentation will cover Curiosity's mission to the red planet in detail. Topics to be discussed include a bit on the history of Mars rovers at JPL, the scientific motivation for Curiosity, and the preparations for launch two days after Thanksgiving 2011. The science suite on board this one-ton mega rover will be presented, as well as the engineering challenges involved in getting Curiosity to the launch pad, traveling 352 million miles to Mars over 8.5 months, and “sticking the landing” following the so-called “seven minutes of terror” on 5 August 2012. Early mission science results will be presented as well, followed by pop-culture reaction to the rover landing.
Todd Barber is a JPL senior propulsion engineer, spending two decades as lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission to Saturn, following part-time work on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, Deep Impact mission, and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which landed the large rover Curiosity on the red planet on August 5, 2012. Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997, on its two-billion-mile, seven-year journey to the ringed planet. It “took the plunge” into Saturn’s atmosphere in 2017 after thirteen years in orbit around Saturn. The MER team launched twin rovers to the red planet in June and July of 2003, and Spirit and Opportunity lasted six years and fourteen years, respectively, into their three-month missions. Todd also worked as the lead impactor propulsion engineer on Deep Impact, which successfully crashed into Comet Tempel1 on July 4, 2005, at 23,000 miles per hour. Mr. Barber recently completed working on the Dawn mission, an ion propulsion mission to the two largest main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. He also recently began supporting the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission and was the Mars2020 propulsion lead engineer for operations. Much to his delight, he is now supporting the Voyager mission as well, more than 40 years after its launch.
Mr. Barber worked on the Galileo project for over seven years and his primary responsibility was getting Galileo into Jupiter orbit on December 7, 1995. Todd also worked part-time on the Space Infra-Red Telescope Facility (SIRTF) mission and on the Stardust mission, as well as the Mars Sample Return mission and a Mars airplane study. Mr. Barber received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Award in 1996 for his work on Galileo. In 2018, he was also honored to receive NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal for heading up Cassini’s propulsion team for nearly two decades.
Mr. Barber is a native of Wichita, Kansas, and attended MIT between 1984 and 1990, obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in aerospace engineering, with a humanities concentration in music. He is also a composer of church choral music, with two pieces published to date. His hobbies include singing charitably and professionally, playing the piano, snagging degree confluences (exact integer latitude/longitude intersections), visiting all the U.S. tri-state corners and national parks, playing basketball (though it’s been a while), and amateur astronomy.
The presentation will be on Wednesday, December 14th, 2022 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM PST via Zoom. The Zoom link for the meeting is attached to this announcement.