Friday August 3, 2012
Ingenuity meets Curiosity
A Dayton researcher's design is part of the Curiosity lab rover scheduled to reach Mars early Monday, Aug. 6.
Dayton ingenuity will be driving Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover scheduled to touch down on Mars early Monday after a 352-million-mile trip from Earth.
Chad Barklay, a senior research engineer in the University of Dayton Research Institute's Energy Technologies and Materials division, developed the layout and assembly procedures for the radioisotope power system that will operate Curiosity's wheels, robotic arm, computers, radio and instruments. "We helped build the proverbial tail on the Curiosity dog," said Barklay, referring to the power generator attached to the back end of the rover – whose design, including camera "head," make it appear somewhat canine-like.
Barklay studied materials engineering at the University of Dayton, receiving his master's in 2004 and a doctorate in 2007.
He designed the layout and assembly procedures under contract to the Idaho National Laboratory, which assembled and tested the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The power system works by converting heat created by naturally decaying isotopes into electricity to power the rover. Heat from the generator will also be used to keep the rover's mechanical, computer and communication systems at operating temperature.
The system will generate enough electricity to power "the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars' surface" and throughout the length of the mission, currently scheduled to take one Martian year, or 687 Earth days, according to an Idaho National Laboratory Research Fact Sheet: http://www.inl.gov/research/
Prior to the MSL launch, Barklay also participated on a team of scientists who determined which tests would be needed to ensure that the power system will properly function after the lab lands. "The MSL will go through a series of pyro shock events, such as parachute deployment and retro rocket firing, as it goes through entry, descent and landing," Barklay said. "We needed to make sure that the power system could withstand these events and remain operational to execute its mission after landing."
For more information, contact Pamela Gregg at 937-229-3268 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life.
The rover for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, named Curiosity, is about 3 meters (10 feet) long, not counting the additional length that the rover's arm can be extended forward. The front of the rover is on the left in this side view. The arm is partially raised but not extended. Rising from the rover deck just behind the front wheels is the remote sensing mast. This image was taken April 4, 2011, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Chad Barklay is a senior research engineer in the University of Dayton Research Institute¿s Energy Technologies and Materials division. He developed the layout and assembly procedures for the radioisotope power system that will operate Curiosity¿s wheels, robotic arm, computers, radio and instruments.