Dr. Anita Sengupta
Dr. Anita Sengupta is a rocket scientist and aerospace engineer who for the past decade has been developing spacecraft technologies that have enabled the exploration of Mars, Asteroids, and deep space. She started her career working on the launch vehicles and communications satellites. Her doctoral research focused the developing the ion engines that powered the Dawn spacecraft to reach Vesta and Ceres in the main asteroid belt. She was then responsible for the supersonic parachute system that was integral to the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars. She most recently led the development of the Cold Atom Laboratory, a laser-cooling quantum physics facility to be launched in 2017 to the International Space Station to create the coldest spot in the known universe. She is now leading the next generation of technologies for missions to explore the origins of the cosmos and search for habitable worlds outside of our solar system.
Dr. Sengupta received her MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she teaches spacecraft, entry, and landing system design for planetary exploration. In her spare time she is an avid pilot, motorcyclist, scuba diver, runner, and science fiction fan.
YOW! West 2017 Perth
The Future of Mars Exploration
Mars is the next destination for humans to explore and colonize in our journey through the solar system and beyond. For the past thirty years, the space programs of many nations have been sending landed platforms of increasing complexity, revealing the Red Planet’s ancient past. One of the most challenging aspects of all missions to Mars is the safe landing on the surface, from an initial entry speed of 30,000 miles per hour to a soft touchdown. During the descent to the surface, robots and eventually people are protected from extreme temperatures and G-forces by complex engineered systems. On the surface they must be able to survive radiation and low pressures, with only the limited resources they can bring with them. This talk will discuss the motivation for Mars exploration and how engineering challenges are tackled with computational modeling, cutting-edge technologies, and out-of-the-box thinking. Engineering the Red Planet is the key to our future and understanding our past.