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Shonte Wright
Thermal Systems Cognizant Engineer ("Cog-E") for
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

P2K: What is it that a "thermal engineer" actually does?

Shonte Wright: Thermal engineers are responsible for the thermal control of a spacecraft. Now when we launch a spacecraft it is in a very harsh environment in space, and at the respective planets that we opt to try and land on. So it is important that we come up with different blanketing schemes, as well as thermal control options, such as heaters and thermostats to control the actual temperature of the hardware, to ensure that it can not only survive but operate at a required temperature.

P2K: What does that mean you do on a daily basis?

Shonte Wright: I do a variety of things. The main objective for thermal engineering is to ensure the thermal control of a spacecraft when it's in space. When we deal with hardware we have to not only procure it, but we have to test it once it gets here to ensure that it meets the specs that we have laid out for it. So with regard to thermal engineering we do a lot of testing. We maintain requirements and we ensure the thermal control of the spacecraft.

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