findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily
reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Thermal Systems Cognizant Engineer ("Cog-E") for Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
P2K: Specifically the Mars Exploration Rovers that are being sent to Mars are going into a very extreme environment. How is that a kind of challenge that gets everything that you know, all your experience, on edge to try and solve the problems that come from that extreme environment?
Shonte Wright: When I think about the extreme environment of first getting to Mars, and then landing on Mars, it is just phenomenal. When you think about the way in which you really have to push the envelope to ensure that you have a thermal design that can withstand not only the launch, the transit to Mars, but landing on Mars, it's just phenomenal. When you think about a temperature of -105 degrees C, and having to withstand that temperature, actually having to live in that temperature environment until you are prompted to operate, as is the case for many of our actuators. It is just incredible when you think about the thermal control mechanisms that have to be put in place such as heaters, thermostats, and multi layer insulation blanketing.
P2K: Everybody says "it's so cool... it's so fantastic... I love it." What do you really get a kick out of in working on things like the Mars Exploration Rovers mission?
Shonte Wright: Wow I love my job! I can't tell you!!! And working on the Mars Exploration Rovers was just fantastic from the standpoint of... you're dealing with something that's going to Mars. When you're sitting there looking at hardware, and you're delivering that to your testing facility so that you can ensure it's appropriate operation, you're sitting there thinking to yourself I'm dealing with hardware that is going to Mars. What I'm holding in this box is going to Mars, and it just blows you away when you think about how closely you are involved with something that is just going to... It's going to just impress the world; it's going to change the way in which you view a lot of things, and especially when we start getting data back with regards to what we're finding on Mars, and just knowing that you've been a really intimate part of that, it's just phenomenal.