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Mars is the next destination for humans to explore and colonize in our journey through the solar system and beyond. For the past thirty years, the space programs of many nations have been sending landed platforms of increasing complexity, revealing the Red Planet’s ancient past. One of the most challenging aspects of all missions to Mars is the safe landing on the surface, from an initial entry speed of 30,000 miles per hour to a soft touchdown. During the descent to the surface, robots and eventually people are protected from extreme temperatures and G-forces by complex engineered systems. On the surface they must be able to survive radiation and low pressures, with only the limited resources they can bring with them. This talk will discuss the motivation for Mars exploration and how engineering challenges are tackled with computational modeling, cutting-edge technologies, and out-of-the-box thinking. Engineering the Red Planet is the key to our future and understanding our past.
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