What should NASA do next?

March 18, 2013

suzanne.deffree-March 18, 2013

From the editor: We're posting this blog from EDN here because (1) those EDNers always have more fun, and (2) it's a good way to start a discussion on NASA before the upcoming DESIGN West conference. Luke Dubord from JPL's Curiosity rover team will be speaking at a DESIGN West keynote on April 23.

Welcome to our 5 Engineers section, part of this blog and our Fun Friday newsletter, where we toss out a question and invite our audience to respond with their wittiest answers.

In addition to this blog on EDN, I manage the EDN Moments blog where we explore interesting moments in tech history, celebrating them and often discussing aspects of historical events that may not be as straight forward as they seem.

I truly enjoy doing the research for the EDN Moments blog.  it's given me a whole new appreciation for everything engineers have done and will do.

As you can imagine, one can't look back at tech history without becoming deeply acquainted with the work of NASA. In doing so, I've also become deeply aggravated that all of the phenomenal engineering that has come out of NASA over the years is not more widely known. That spurred me to create this EDN collection of content -- NASA: Revealing the unknown to benefit all humankind -- which brings together so many different looks at its engineering.

NASA has taken a lot of flak in the last few years since it announced plans to end its Space Shuttle program. The big joke was that Americans were throwing in the space exploration towel and would now have to hitch rides to the International Space Station.

Truth be told, the end of the program was a huge deal. But it's not like NASA has sat on its laurels since then. The major accomplishment is, of course, all of its work on Mars. One of the avionics system engineers who helped get Curiosity to the Red Planet, Luke Dubord, will be speaking at a DESIGN West keynote next month (photo, right).

Dubord is currently the cross cutting infrastructure and autonomous fault protection lead on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Prior to working in fault protection, Dubord was a member of the MSL Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations team, and worked on many aspects of the MSL computer and power systems, including being the lead system engineer for the development of the MSL pyrotechnics system. He was also the system engineer on console for both MSL launch and entry descent and landing--so you know he'll have some interesting things to say.

[Click here to register for DESIGN West 2013, April 22-25 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Options range from an All-Access Pass -- which includes Black Hat (security) Conference Session to Free Expo Admission].

I continue to be astounded by what NASA has done but, more so, I look forward to what NASA is doing and will do.

So here's the question for this week: If it were up to you, what should NASA do next? We've been to the moon, now we've got Curiosity on Mars,  and the Voyager crafts are still reporting data back as they head for interstellar space--What should NASA revel next?

Share your opinion below. Be sure to stay tuned to this blog for more 5 Engineers questions in the weeks to come.

Information Redux


Suzanne Deffree
is the online managing editor of EDN, sister web site to Embedded.com.

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