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Dr. Anita Sengupta, Friday, 11-1-13 November 2, 2013

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Dr. Anita Sengupta, Friday, 11-1-13


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Guest:  Dr. Anita Sengupta.  Topics:  Cold Atom Lab (CAL) project, human spaceflight EDL & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed back Dr. Anita Sengupta to discuss the Cold Atom Lab (CAL) project for which Dr. Sengupta is the project manager.  CAL is to launch to the ISS in early 2016, probably aboard the SpaceX Dragon though that has yet to be confirmed but the project needs a ride on a pressurized spacecraft.  For more information on the CAL project and mission, check out these websites: http://coldatomlab.jpl.nasa.gov; http://coldatomlab.jpl.nasa.gov/news/FunPhysicsResearch. During this 64 minute discussion, Dr. Sengupta explained the CAL project to us, ultra cool quantum gasses in absolute zero and in zero gravity to establish a Force Free Environment which means no gravity pull.  We talked about laser cooling and the series of experiments likely to be done on the ISS with CAL based on the NASA Research Announcement which has a submittal date of Nov. 5, 2013.  We talked about atomic physics and many related topics, including the mechanics of the project, the need to place CAL in a rack as close to the center of gravity on the ISS as possible for the closest point to zero gravity. Listeners asked lots of questions about CAL, but they also had questions for Anita  regarding her expertise in entry, descent, and landing (EDL) from her recent work with Curiosity and the super sonic parachute.  In talking about human spaceflight, at one point Anita remarked that CAL was a hybrid project as it is definitely a robotic science mission but they interface with the ISS astronauts so CAL and the team have feet in both worlds.  In talking about the CAL hardware, we learned it was designed as an ORU, an orbital replacement unit.  Doug called in regarding EDL on Mars from Phobos and the use of strategically placed propellant depots in orbit around Mars and how that might simply a Martian EDL.  Anita provided much technical information on this subject and we learned that the actual EDL is driven by the entry mass and the need to dissipate energy. She talked about the difference in  a human EDL protocol and a robotic mission EDL protocol and said the human EDL has not yet been devised or worked out.  Near the end of the program, Anita explained more about laser cooling, including photons pushing atoms which slows them down and makes them cooler.  This enables more accurate laser tuning for the research. Susan asked her if she learned about the engineering for her project from grad school or from OJT.  As you will hear, the basics from grad school and the specifics OTJ.  Near the end of our program, we talked about the role of a project manager and auditing Anita’s USC class which might be possible when she teaches an upcoming graduate class online. We also talked about career choices and would one rather work on a humans to Mars flight or robotic missions.

Please post comments/questions on The Space Show blog above.  Dr. Sengupta provided her contact information on air at the end of the program or you can email her through me if you prefer.