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Symposium Keynote

Allbaugh Headshot June2017The Mission and some Challenges

Dr. Alicia R. Allbaugh
MSL IPE Team Chief, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft launched in November of 2011 reaching Mars only 9 months later to achieve a spectacular Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) on August 5th 2012.  Since then, the Curiosity rover has driven over 16 kilometers, sampled a few sand dunes and over a dozen rocks by drilling into them.  This talk will present an overview of the mission, its objectives, and discoveries as well as a few of its challenges along the way.

Alicia Allbaugh was born and raised in Newark, Ohio and was valedictorian at Licking Valley High School (yes that is its real name) in 1984.  She attended the Ohio State University first at a branch campus in her home town and then on main campus in Columbus with 58,000 classmates. After earning a BS degree in Engineering Physics in 1988, she accepted a position in Annapolis, Maryland analyzing electromagnetic interference in communications for military aircraft and even between the space shuttle and ground control during landing. Simultaneously, she took graduate courses in physics at the Johns Hopkins University.  An act of congress precipitated her layoff from that position in 1991 at which point she landed a position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. She supported the Galileo mission for 8 years as it cruised towards and then orbited Jupiter including the first ever asteroid encounter with a spacecraft, first spacecraft software upgrade in flight  (which is now commonplace), the first observation of an impact of a comet impact into a planet (by Shoemaker-Levy 9) and sending the first probe into another planet’s atmosphere. She left JPL in 1999 to return to graduate work and earned a  Ph. D in physics from the Kansas State University in 2003. She became a visiting assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and taught many engineers in training during her two years there. She was drawn back to California by a proposal of marriage from an fellow engineer on Galileo. She accepted and returned to JPL in 2006 in support of the Mars Science Laboratory project. She has been supporting the Curiosity rover in some capacity ever since. Currently, she is the Team Chief of the Integrated Planning and Execution Team which is responsible for the coordination of all the activities commanded on the rover every martian day and sometimes supports that commanding as a Mission Lead ensuring the health and safety of the vehicle.