The AATC2017 program committee is pleased to welcome Dr. Anita Sengupta as the closing keynote speaker for this year’s conference in Boston. Her keynote “Engineering the Red Planet” will discuss the challenges and out-of-the-box thinking required to explore Mars, a topic she knows a little something about as an engineer on the team that designed the 70-foot parachute that slowed the descent of the Curiosity rover so it could land safely on Mars in 2012!
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, she explained the biggest challenge in landing the Curiosity on Mars:
“The hardest part of Mars entry, descent and landing system design is that you can never actually test your system end-to-end here on Earth before you get to Mars. On Earth the gravity is three times what it is on Mars. The atmosphere and composition is totally different, which means that you have to understand the system so well from an engineering and physics perspective that you can predict how it’s going to work and survive with pretty good precision with no redundancy in the system before you ever get to Mars.”
More recently she has been leading the team building a Cold Atom Laboratory that is scheduled to be aboard the International Space Station later this year. The laboratory is designed to make the coldest spot in the universe for physicists to study atoms. She is also a Research Professor at the University of Southern California where she teaches spacecraft design.
So what can we learn as technical team members on an Agile team from Dr. Sengupta? She explains in an interview with Women You Should Know:
“I wanted to do the parachute job because is it difficult. I specifically like to take on challenging problems because I like to be pushed beyond my comfort level. I am also an experimentalist and parachutes require a lot of testing to make sure they work, so it fit in perfectly with my technical and research background. There were many unknowns in this parachute development because of the size and deployment conditions, so it was right up my alley.”
This visionary keynote from a real-life rocket scientist is not to be missed and will provide a great ending to the conference before we all head back to work and solve our own planet Earth problems. On behalf of the Program Committee, we look forward to seeing you at AATC2017 in Boston on April 19-21!