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LIVE FROM MARS: BIOGRAPHIES

 

 

R o g e r  G i b b s
Deputy Project Manager, 2001 Mars Odyssey
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA / Caltech

Profile:
Roger Gibbs is currently the Deputy Project Manager for the Mars 2001 Odyssey Mission; prior to launch he was the Flight System Manager of the Odyssey orbiter. In the past Roger has held a number of positions relating to the design of robotic spacecraft to other planets, including: Spacecraft Chief System Engineer (Cassini mission to Saturn), Manager of the Systems Engineering Team (Cassini Mission to Saturn), Spacecraft Chief System Engineer (Mars Observer mission to Mars), and Instrument Integration Engineer ( Mars Observer and Galileo mission to Jupiter).

Roger has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.

He lives in Altadena, CA with his wife Sharon and two daughters Lauren and Amanda. Roger was born in Los Angeles, CA and enjoys restoring old metal working machines and old sports cars.
Profile courtesy NASA's Jet Prpopulsion Laboratory

My name is Roger Gibbs, and currently in operations I'm the Deputy Project Manager. Prior to launch, I was responsible for developing and delivering the spacecraft, which is now almost at Mars. As the Deputy Project Manager, I'm responsible for nothing and everything! I don't have any particular products that I have to deliver, but my job is to look over and see what the team is doing. We have an excellent team, and they have my complete confidence. My job is to look at what they're doing, and to make sure that they have all of the resources they need, that if they need equipment, if they need computers, if there are other team products-whether those are computer models or reports-that they're being provided at the right time. Then, in addition, I'm a little bit of a conscience: I look over the work that they are doing-I don't do the work, I look over the work-and I sometimes will ask them the question, "Is this the best that you can do?" "Aren't you in the position where maybe you ought to do this over just one more time?" It's a little hard to explain, I guess, in terms of what the everyday job is, but that is it in a nutshell!

Are the humans more important than the hardware, or the hardware more important than the humans?
We've had humans in the loop designing this thing, and it is true that before we launched, we went ahead and designed the MOI sequence, and everything that would be on the computer all the way through MOI, was designed and tested. But once we launched, we did go back and we wanted to examine exactly how is the spacecraft performing. So we have the engineers and people in the loop to make sure that the spacecraft is operating well. In addition, we've had a navigation team which has been watching and tracking how the spacecraft has performed on its trajectory to Mars. We made some fine tweaks to the spacecraft in terms of its trajectory, and we recently (early October 2001) went to a different attitude, where if you look at the spacecraft, the solar wind puts a torque on this solar array, we've gone to a different orientation to minimize that torque, and so all of those changes had people involved, and because of the involvement of the people, we have the highest confidence that we're going to be successful when we go into orbit around Mars. (And so it proved: MOI went off successfully on October 23, 2001.)

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