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Panel: Perseverance Innovators

11:30 AM, Thursday 4 Feb 2021 CST (1 hour)
  Virtual session
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The newest Mars rover is landing in just a few weeks! Find out the latest, innovative technology that has gone into this rover to explore the red planet.

Clara O’Farrell
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, O'Farrell moved to the US on her 19th birthday to start college. After studying Aerospace Engineering at Princeton, she completed a Ph.D. at Caltech where her research was focused on the fluid dynamics of jellyfish swimming. In 2013, O'Farrell joined JPL, where she works on problems related to parachutes, aerodynamics, and trajectory simulation for Entry, Descent, and Landing.

Jeffrey Carlson
Jeff keeps busy between working in robotics at JPL and living as an artist in Hollywood. He recalls career highlights from several spheres:

Engineer - He loved working on the small team which built the "neck and head" A.K.A. the "Remote Sensing Mast" for the Perseverance Rover. Jeff was the entry-level engineer on the team, responsible for writing procedures, assembling hardware, counting screws, and even designing the paint job.
Film making - After landing in Hollywood, he worked on the Art Dept on several films including Sharkando III and IV. It was zany and invigorating.
Musician - He reflects on one morning in Paris, singing before Mass in Notre Dame cathedral. As he walked out of the chapel, he was robbed of his belongings, but nonetheless remembers the beautiful harmonics fondly.
Modeling - In his spare time, he models sustainable desert clothing, and even walked the runway for a fashion show in Hollywood (pre-COVID).

Michael Sondheim
I studied mathematics in college and was planning to be a high school teacher. I took an engineering job while getting my Master's degree and fell in love with the discipline. I started my career working on many airborne projects, mostly imaging systems for high-altitude planes. But after I finished my Master's degree I took a job at JPL to work on the Mars 2020 Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL).

PIXL is an exciting, challenging, and complex system. I was fortunate enough to join the project in the design phase, so I was able to contribute to the development in areas like instrument Fault Protection, Verification and Validation, instrument-level Integration and Test, delivery to the Rover, and Rover-level Integration and Test (at the Kennedy Space Center! Super cool!). I am also supporting early operations and surface commissioning activities. Go PIXL and go Mars2020!!
Space Center Houston
Vice President of Education


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