Thursday 21st February 2013

Curiosity on Mars

ACSER Distinguished Guest Lecture

Presented by:
René Fradet
Deputy Director of Engineering & Science Directorate,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Photos from the event can be viewed here

The presentation slides used during the lecture can be viewed here.

Video from the event can be viewed below:

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission set down a large, mobile laboratory - the rover Curiosity - at Gale Crater, using precision landing technology that makes many of Mars' most intriguing regions viable destinations for the first time. During the 23 months after landing, Curiosity will analyze dozens of samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores with greater range than any previous Mars rover.

Curiosity carries the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars' surface, a payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers. Its assignment: Investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and for preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

This talk will survey the tremendous successes of Curiosity so far, from landing on Mars to photographing, sampling and inspecting her surface. Some of the challenges facing Curiosity in the future include robotically drilling on the surface of Mars. This will be the first time since the Apollo program that humanity has drilled rocks on a non-Earth body, and the first time ever for a robot explorer.

René Fradet is the Deputy Director, Engineering and Science Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. From 2009 through 2010, René was the Flight System Manager for the Mars Sample Laboratory (MSL) where he was responsible for the overall development of the MSL Flight System. Before assuming his present leadership post at JPL, René was the founder, president and CEO of Alliance Spacesystems, also of Pasadena. René's company built a wide range of space mechatronic systems, most notably the Robot Arm for Curiosity, as well as the robot arms for the Phoenix lander and the earlier Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Opportunity and its arm are still operational on Mars after almost ten years. Before founding Alliance, René was at JPL as the Deputy Spacecraft Manager on the New Millennium Program Deep Space One (DS1) Project. Deep Space One traveled far beyond Earth's orbit, visited both an asteroid and a comet, and was the first spacecraft to use an ion propulsion main engine rather than chemical propulsion for deep space missions. René was the co-leader responsible for the management of DS1 design, development and test, and was the chief Mechanical Engineer responsible for all associated mechanical activities.

René Fradet will be visiting UNSW to present the key note at the Off Earth Mining Forum.

Venue Location

The lecture will be held at the Sir John Clancy Auditorium (C24), University of New South Wales, Kensington. UNSW Gate 9 on High Street (near the corner of Botany street and High Street) is the closest gate to the Sir John Clancy Auditorium. Buses to and from the city and Bondi Junction regularly stop just outside gate 9. If you are driving, you can either park in the Botany Street parking station, accessed via gate 11 or there is time restricted street parking just off campus.