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NWPE Member Jean Robinson and Students are Out of this World!
posted by: Cindy Omlin | December 31, 2014, 11:00 PM   

Jean was pleased to be able to connect again with Dr. Boykins when he was in Spokane, WA, recently as part of National Geographic's "Live!" Speakers' tour.

jean robinson with kobie boykins croppedBoykins designed the solar array for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers which were designed to last for a 90 day mission. 

Despite this, the Opportunity rover continues to send telemetry and will celebrate its 11th anniversary in January 2015. Jean and the students played a part in the construction of the new Mars rover, Curiosity, NASA's mobile science lab the size of a Mini-Cooper.  They were initially told that NASA's next rover would go to the moon, but NASA refocused the design for a Mars science lab and Curiosity was born.  Jean was thrilled to learn that the actuators built by Robinson and her students were the prototypes used for the Curiosity Mars rover!

Boykins, who designed the solar array for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, also designed the Curiosity mobility system.  Based on the human body, the rover leg's upper part is the femur and the lower part is the fibula and the actuators, the motors that control the mechanical process, allows the arms to bend.  These legs were able scoop up Martian soil bringing it up to the top of the rover for analysis in Curiosity's mobile science lab.  Curiosity analysis has positively identified that Martian soil does indeed contain the chemical signature of the chemical elements necessary for life!

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