Prof. Bobby Braun and GT Alums Contribute to Mars Curiosity Landing
Professor Bobby Braun (AE) with former Georgia Tech AE students Ravi Prakash, David Way and Devin Kipp and a full-scale model of the Mars Curiosity rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.
On August 6, the world was watching as the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) completed an autonomous landing on Mars. The fate of the most ambitious machine humans ever sent to another planet rested on an innovative seven-minute landing sequence that has been years in the making. Georgia Tech alumni Devin Kipp and Ravi Prakash have been part of the MSL entry,descent and landing team since graduating in 2005 with M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering; Georgia Tech Alumnus Dr. David Way has been part of this team since 2002. In the LA Times, Kipp states, "It's not really possible to do an end-to-end test on Earth - because Earth is not Mars. The first time we do that end-to-end test, it's not a test. It's the real thing. On Mars."
The goal of Mars Science Laboratory (nicknamed Curiosity), is "to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms." Curiosity carried 10 science instruments to Mars for testing and calibration. The instruments are reported to be in good health after landing and testing and calibration are now proceeding.
After graduating from Georgia Tech's School of Aerospace Engineering with an M.S. in 2005, Devin Kipp joined JPL as an entry, descent, and landing systems engineer. He has spent the past 7 years working on the design, development, testing, and operation of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft. During that time he has focused on parachute descent, terrain interactions and mission operations.
Ravi Prakash joined JPL after graduating from Georgia Tech's School of Aerospace Engineering with an M.S. in 2005. He has been on the Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent and landing (EDL) team for over 5 years, participating in radar field tests and leading the in space checkout of the MSL EDL instrumentation.
After graduating from Georgia Tech's School of Aerospace Engineering with a Ph.D. in 2001, Dr. David Way joined the technical staff of the NASA Langley Research Center. He has spent the past 10 years performing detailed simulation of the Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent and landing process. These simulations results have been used as part of the navigation process, and in the design and testing of a range of entry, desent and landing subsystems. David is a member of the EDL mission operations team.
To read an article by Prof. Robert Braun on the importance of the U.S. remaining the leader in planetary exploration, visit: