August 13, 2012

Navajo engineer helped develop Curiosity

Aaron Yazzie Plays Major Role In Curiosity’s Mars Exploration

By Linda KorAs the Mars Science Laboratory made a successful landing on Martian soil this week, a resounding cheer went up throughout the world. The landing of the rover Curiosity brought together years of work by scientists and engineers, and gave the world a first-hand look at the landscape of the planet, whose distance from Earth can range from 36 million to over 250 million miles.

Among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and engineers who made this event come to fruition is a name familiar to many in Holbrook. Aaron Yazzie, a 2004 graduate of Holbrook High School, is a mechanical engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories. He played a significant role in the development of the Curiosity’s ability to collect samples from the planet.
And:After graduating from Stanford in 2008, Yazzie was immediately hired by JPL as a mechanical engineer and for the past year has been working on the Mars Science Laboratory. His job was to design equipment that would allow the Curiosity to collect the surface samples needed for scientific analysis.

The design includes a turret at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm that holds five devices, including a percussive drill for collecting powdered samples from rock interiors, a dust removal brush device, another device called a Mars Hand Lens Imager, an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, and a multi-purpose device named Collection and Handling for Insitu Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA). The CHIMRA includes a soil scoop and a set of chambers for sieving, sorting and portioning samples of rock powder or soil for delivery to analytical instruments. The purpose of these instruments is to determine by the samples collected whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.
Comment:  For more on Navajo scientists, see Navajo Undergrad Studies Climate Change and Navajo Science Nerds.

Below:  "Aaron Yazzie poses in front of a Curiosity rover mock-up at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratories where he works as a mechanical engineer. Yazzie’s skills played a role in the development of the rover that is collecting surface samples on Mars."

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Mars rover engineer talks about science, Native American heritage

A member of the NASA team working on the Mars rover, Curiosity, visited Centennial Campus Thursday to celebrate Native American Heritage month.

Multicultural Student Affairs invited Aaron Yazzie, a Native American, for its inaugural Indigenous Speaker Series. Yazzie spoke to students, faculty members and visitors about his career as a mechanical engineer.