Mars: Guests (2019)
Lead Propulsion Engineer, Cassini mission, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Todd Barber is a JPL propulsion engineer, working on the Cassini mission to Saturn. He worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, and the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997 on its two-billion-mile, seven-year journey to the ringed planet. The Mars Exploration Rover mission launched twin rovers to Mars in 2003. The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, launched in 2011 and landed in August of 2012. Mr. Barber also worked on the Deep Space One mission, the first NASA mission to use an ion engine (ala "Star Trek") for primary propulsion. Deep Space One was launched in October, 1998, rendezvousing with a near-Earth asteroid in July of 1999. An extended mission was completed successfully - a visit to a comet in September, 2001.
Todd worked on the Galileo project for over seven years and his primary responsibility was getting Galileo into Jupiter orbit on December 7, 1995. Mr. Barber also worked part-time on the Space Infra-Red Telescope Facility (SIRTF) mission and on the Stardust mission, as well as the Mars Sample Return mission and a Mars airplane study. Todd received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Award in 1996 for his work on Galileo.
Mr. Barber is a native of Wichita, Kansas, and attended MIT between 1984 and 1990, obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in aerospace engineering, along with a humanities concentration in music.
Mobility Systems Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In 1999 Matt received his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. That same year he joined an industrial aerospace company in Pasadena (Alliance Spacesystems Inc.) where he worked on several R&D as well as space flight robotic hardware projects.
In 2003 Matt left ASI to pursue a masters degree in controls from Boston University. Matt's research at BU focused on medical applications of robotics, specifically for prenatal heart surgery.
In the spring of 2005 Matt joined the Robotic Hardware Systems group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. From 2005 to 2010 Matt was the chief mechanical engineer for the ATHLETE hex-legged rover. During this time Matt was also working on surface operations for the Mars Exploration Rovers as a Rover Planner sending tactical mobility and IDD commands to drive the rovers and operate their robotic arms on the surface of Mars.
Matt is currently the mobility systems engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. In this role he works with the mobility hardware and software development teams to ensure the vehicle will properly operate once it reaches the surface of Mars.
Matt is also a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and teaches a class in mechanical engineering design.
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