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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.

Dr. Anita Sengupta, Tuesday, 8-28-12 August 29, 2012

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Dr. Anita Sengupta, Tuesday, 8-28-12


Guest:  Dr. Anita Sengupta.  Topics:  Entry, Descent, & Landing for Mars, Venus, propulsion, parachute issues, & more.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Dr. Anita Sengupta, Senior Systems Engineer at JPL in Entry, Descent & Landing (EDL) Advanced Technologies Group to discuss EDL for Mars, other planets, and much more.  In our first segment, Dr. Sengupta described conditions relevant to Mars and landing an object on the planet. We talked about the Martian atmosphere and what an EDL team needs to consider and design to land any payload on Mars as well as humans. We also learned that EDL for a different size payload would be different than what was used for Curiosity, probably needing new systems.  We talked about supersonic parachutes & parachutes in general, addressing parachute materials, velocity, parachute violent extremes, the speed of sound & much more.  Another topic was testing on Earth to make sure the devices work on Mars.  Dr. Sengupta explained how such testing & Mars simulation is done on Earth.  Other landing techniques such as airbags were mentioned along with retro rockets.  During this discussion, our guest did a great job of explaining the various forces and physics involved in landing & how each of these forces must be dealt with for a successful landing.  We then talked about landing a payload on Venus and just how different Venus is to Mars.  The same for our Moon and the moons of Mars, Phobos & Deimos.  Listeners sent in questions about the rover debris being left on Mars as well as wondering if there were other ways to explore Mars than using rovers.  John called to inquire about first stage reusability & our guest talked about doing the “trades” (running the numbers to see if reusability is economic or not). Doug called to talk about orbital transfer vehicles, aerobraking, and more.  This led us to a discussion about larger launch vehicles, the need to dissipate lots of energy on reentry, and why larger areas with drag are preferable.

In our second segment, I asked about software programs we might use for the basic type of analysis Dr. Sengupta had been discussing. Note her recommendations.  We then talked about plasma propulsion and ion thrusters.  Dr. Sengupta had much to say on this subject including ion thruster fuel, costs, ISP, and again, the importance of doing trade studies for a mission to determine the best methodology/economics for the mission. Our guest also talked about the lower ISP Hall ion thruster which was also lower in cost but with substantially more ISP than a chemical engine.  Also in this segment, we talked about the Dawn mission & Vega, a possible Europa mission & the use of nano satellites for the Europa mission.  Doug called back regarding ion propulsion fuel, xenon, iron, lunar fuel, etc.  As our program was ending, Anita mentioned the Orion parachute system tests she works on & the new Mars mission InSight.  Several times during the program, Dr. Sengupta stressed the need to do the trade studies regarding mission planning to determine the best economics & cost effectiveness for the mission.  Many of you have heard on The Space Show that if one does not “run the numbers,” it is impossible to know if what you want to do is economically & mission productive/viable.  On Oct. 28, Dr. Jurist is doing a special webinar with his interactive Excel spreadsheet on rocket/mission planning.  It is essential to be able to do this in mission planning.  Trusting your beliefs, gut, & preferences are not the way to go so watch this webinar if you can.

Please post questions/comments on our blog.

The John Batchelor Show “Hotel Mars,” Wednesday, 8-1-12 August 2, 2012

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The John Batchelor Show “Hotel Mars,” Wednesday, 8-1-12


Guests: John Batchelor, Dr. Anita Sengupta, Dr. David Livingston. Topics: Mars Science Lab (MSL) and the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Written transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. This program is archived on The Space Show website, podcasting, and blog sites with permission from John Batchelor. Please visit the John Batchelor Show website for more information about this fine program, www.johnbatchelorshow.com. During our 11.5 minute discussion, Dr. Sengupta explained in detail the planned landing process for the Curiosity Rover at 10:31 PM PDT Sunday, August 5th.  We discussed the parachutes, entry speed, G-forces, both supersonic speed and slowing down to subsonic, the heat shield, tether, Sky Crane and more.  We also talked about landing in Gale Crater.  Dr. Sengupta took us through the process from start to finish.  We addressed issues with the time delay of 14 minutes back to Earth and how we will get information back regarding the success of the landing.  Please post your comments/question on The Space Show blog.

If you have a question for either John Batchelor or Dr. Sengupta, please send it to me and I will forward it to the person of your choice.