The Human Exploration of Mars

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Virtual Event

Thursday, November 5, 2020, 4 pm

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This is a past event.

ME-EM Virtual Graduate Seminar Speaker Series

proudly presents

Anita Sengupta, PhD

University of Southern California

Abstract: 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 robotic landed platforms of increasing complexity, revealing the Red Planet’s ancient past. One of the most challenging aspects of sending humans 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, humans must be protected from extreme temperatures and G-forces by complex engineered systems. On the surface future explorers must be able to survive surface 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 cutting-edge technologies, in situ resource utilization, and out-of-the-box thinking. Engineering the Red Planet is the key to our future and understanding our past.

Bio: Dr. Sengupta is an aerospace engineer, rocket scientist, and pilot who has developed technologies that have enabled the exploration of Mars, asteroids, and deep space for 20 years. Her career began with the launch of vehicles and communication satellites at Boeing Space and Communications. She then worked for NASA for 16 years where her engineering projects included her PhD research on developing the ion propulsion system for the Dawn Mission (currently in the main asteroid belt), the supersonic parachute that landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, and the Cold Atom Laboratory an atomic physics facility now on board the International Space Station.

After leaving NASA she led the development of the hyperloop as Senior Vice President of systems engineering at Virgin Hyperloop, a technology that can enable ground-based travel in excess of airline speed. In 2018 she became a co-founder of Airspace Experience Technologies, a electric, vertical takeoff and landing urban aerial mobility system. She recently founded her second electric aviation startup focused on energy storage systems for general aviation aircraft. As an engineering savvy executive, she is now leading the mobility solutions for smart cities by eliminating congestion and reducing the carbon footprint of air travel.

Dr. Sengupta received her MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she is a Research Associate Professor of Astronautics and Space Technology specializing in interplanetary entry system and green transportation technology. In her spare time she is avid instrument rated pilot and member of the Civil Air Patrol.

Invited by: Paul van Susante

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