After designing the system we built a prototype or working model and started
integration testing. It is necessary to test new hardware and software together to work
out all the bugs (things that don't quite work right). The IMP interface software was
developed by University of Arizona engineers. The software controlled the sequence
necessary for imaging and the movement of the camera motors and filters.
We had a lot of fun designing and testing the camera system. It was really interesting
taking pictures in the lab for the first time knowing that in the near future it will be
on Mars returning snapshots of that alien terrain.
Now my involvement with Mars is just like yours - I am anxiously awaiting the July 4th
(or 5th) landing of the Pathfinder this year and the first pictures sent back. Just
before the Pathfinder arrives at Mars I will become more nervous (as nearly everyone
involved will, especially those at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) because our
time is at hand.
As a side note to planetary exploration, l have a story about a good friend named
Larry Padgett. Larry has worked on an instrument package going to Saturn's moon Titan for
the past six years. The launch date of this vehicle is set for later this year (see DISR
section below). The spacecraft will take about eight years to get to Saturn before it can
start sending information back to Earth. By that time Larry will have spent 15 years of
his life waiting to see if his designs worked! This is what planetary science is all about!
My Career Journey
I've had several previous engineering jobs at Lockheed Martin.
Zenith Star: Part of the so-called "Star Wars" effort to design a very large
space-based laser system with accuracy abilities equivalent to lighting up a basketball
on the top of the Empire State Building from Denver, Colorado! The final laser would have
been as large as a Greyhound bus and in space it would have been visible as a small speck
on a clear night to the unaided eye. My job entailed integrating many Reduced Instruction
Set (RISC) processors and development of the math library.