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Stacy Weinstein
Test Engineer
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

P2K: What is your job on this mission?

Stacy Weinstein: My job is to do testing for the entry, descent and landing system, which means I get to work with airbag drop tests, rocket drop tests, parachute drop tests, and make sure that the capabilities we are sending to Mars work here first the way we envision them.

P2K: The lab did it before with Pathfinder so it knows perfectly well how to do this. There's no real problem in doing this is there?

Stacy Weinstein: Well... it's not quite the same as Pathfinder. First of all, we are landing in a different season, in a different time of day, which means we've got a lot less dense of an atmosphere, which means we are going to be falling faster, and we are heavier. We are a lot heavier this time on entry, descent and landing (EDL) than we were on Pathfinder, so those two things combined mean that we have to go back and recheck our airbags for heavier masses and potentially faster velocities. We have to size up the rockets, so basically we have to rebuild the rockets. We have to build new rockets that weren't there for Pathfinder. Because of concerns about winds there are a lot of things that ripple through the whole system, and before you know it you're changing almost everything or modifying almost everything. So we have to go back and retest and make sure that our designs are going to work in this new environment.

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