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+ Benny Prats:

Benny Prats Location?

NASA GSFC Greenbelt Code 699/ eINFORMe

What is your role in the SAM project?

Electrical/Thermal Systems Engineer/Payload Downlink Lead

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

Most interesting aspects are conducting tests/experiments to assure hardware performance/health and to properly analyze gas evolved or ingested. The most challenging aspect of the project is overcoming obstacles that prevent the systems from performing to requirements.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

HST, IBEX, TIROS, AQUARIUS, JWST, GLORY, LOLA, EOS, LANDSAT

What kind/level of education do you have?

BS Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Spend time with family, dancing, barbeque and outdoors.

+ Tom Nolan:

Tom Nolan Location?

NASA/GSFC

What is your role in the SAM project?

Principal flight software developer for SAM system and motor controllers

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

SAM has a diverse collection of analysis and transport components, which can be combined and sequenced in a nearly unlimited number of ways. The challenge was to create a new software paradigm that allows the science team to take advantage of this unprecedented flexibility, adapt to conditions on Mars, and maximize the potential for discovery. The fun part for me is making the hardware perform.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

I've been developing instrument software, at NASA and elsewhere, for more than 30 years. I contributed software to a number of high-energy astrophysics missions, including instruments onboard the GRO, Wind, and STEREO satellites, and the LEGS, GRIS, Nightglow, and InFocus balloon campaigns. More recently, I've been working on planetary missions: LADEE, MAVEN, and the future ESA ExoMars rover.

What kind/level of education do you have?

I have a degree in mathematics. And a law degree that I rarely have to wield.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Running and orienteering.

+ Ryan Wilkinson:

Ryan WilkinsonLocation?

Greenbelt, MD NASA/GSFC

What is your role in the SAM project?

Facilitate Mars environment testing, design and construction of prototype hardware and ground support equipment.

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

The chance to work on hardware that will eventually travel on the surface of Mars is an absolute dream job. This project pushes the limits of what can be constructed, getting the most out of the hardware and staying within the weight/cleanliness/power constraints has been a challenge that this team has met.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

I've been involved with ground testing on many projects(HST, WMAP, MLA, JWST, Triana...) in my 11 years at Goddard, but this is the first flight project team I've been a member of.

What kind/level of education do you have?

Trades classes and some college courses.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love working on cars, remodeling my home, backpacking, roadtrips in my RV, entertaining and attending arts festivals.

+ Kiran Patel:

Kiran PatelLocation?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD

What is your role in the SAM project?

I am a member of software team to support the development of Lab, Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and science data analysis software.

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

The complexity of SAM instrument and developing Lab and GSE software.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

XTE, SWIFT/BAT. I have developed flight and Ground Support Equipment software to handle telemetry and commanding for Gamma-Ray and hard X-Rays Scientific Balloon instruments.

What kind/level of education do you have?

B.S in Electrical Engineering M.S in Computer Science (JHU)

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Traveling, walking, reading, watching classical movies and spending time with my family.

+ Matthew Lefavor:

Matthew Lefavor PatelLocation?

NASA GSFC

What is your role in the SAM project?

I am writing and maintaining a suite of software tools (mostly in Python) for extracting, managing, and analyzing SAM engineering and science data. I am also responsible for the software that makes SAM data publicly available through Planetary Data Systems. When SAM Launches, I will be out at JPL assisting in the day-to-day operation of SAM.

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

Writing data analysis software requires synthesizing the hard work and insights of the scientists and engineers who know what data needs to be analyzed and how one would go about analyzing it, even though I have relatively little knowledge of the other team members' areas of expertise. It is as if I am a toolmaker creating tools that I am still learning how to use myself. It is a challenge, but one cannot help but learn a lot in the process—which keeps things interesting. On top of all this, the SAM team first introduced me to the Python programming language, and working with it has been the most fun I've ever had with a computer.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

Like much of the GSFC SAM team, I am assisting with the mass spectrometer missions on the LADEE and MAVEN satellites.

What kind/level of education do you have?

I hold a B.S. in Computer Science and Philosophy from Belmont University, and I am currently working on an M.A. in the Liberal Arts at St. John's College.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love reading philosophy and literature, and I'm learning how to read classical Greek. When I have time, I also like to DJ and compose electronic music.

+ Therese Errigo:

Therese ErrigoWhat about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

Achieving the permissable levels of contaminants in the gas and air samples within the mission technical, cost, and schedule constraints, required the cooperation of all GSFC and MSL team members in order to develop iinnovative approaches to contamination control for both the SAM hardware and the MSL cruise, descent stage and rover hardware. Every aspect of the mission-- from hardware design and materials to mars operations -- had to be evaluated to determine its potential to contaminate the sample or the sample path. The work is still continuing as we evaluate operations scenarios and adjust then based on the results of ground testing on our test beds. For a contamination engineer it does not get much more interesting or exciting than this mission. We had to maintain ultra-low levels of contamination on sample path hardware but allow other hardware to be have much higher levels to be within our cost and schedule constraints. Probably the most challenging aspects were having to accept riskier solutions (we engineers always want the best!) in order to keep in budget and the work we did on modelling contamination transport in Mar's unique environment (CO2 atosphere, high UV radiation levels, wide temperature swings, dust storms, etc.)

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

As a senior engineer, I've supported a wide array of national and international missions in my long career as a radiation analyst, materials engineer, contamination control engineer, and, with SAM, planetary protection. As a young engineer, I was the lead contamination control engineer for ESA's SOHO mission; I lived in Toulouse, France and was able to work with many of the European Space Agencies and firms. When I returned to the states, I went on to be the lead engineer on missions to study the sun and it's interactions with Earth and its mangetosphere -- STEREO, IMAGE, Hinode (instrument), and most recently MMS and Solar Probe. I'm also working with many of the other SAM team members on the LADEE mission's mass spectrometer to study the lunar atmosphere and it's sister instrument that will fly on the Mars bound Maven Orbital Observatory as well as MOMA, an instrument that will fly on the European Rover. Other assignments over the course of my career have included: radiation analyst for TOPEX, Exploerer Platform and SMEX electronics; lead engineer for FUSE, a highly contamination sensitive far-ultraviolet spectroscipe and observatory built to answer questions about cosmic origins and the Big Bang theory through studying deuterium; instrument engineer for the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer for the QuikTOMS (launch vehicle failed) and Japanese ADEOS missions, and support, consulting, or reviewer for such missions as ChipSAT, AIM, HST, FAST, SMEX, SWIFT, GEMS, etc)

What kind/level of education do you have?

Bachelor Degrees in Science and English

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Photography, cooking, traveling, sharing good times with family and friends, being active in my church

+ David Martin:

David Martin Location?

Right in the thick of things.

What is your role in the SAM project?

Lead Systems

What about SAM do you find most interesting? Most challenging?

Since we don't know what we're going to find on Mars, we've built a chemical analysis laboratory in a box. We have maintained the flexibility in hardware (valves, routing through units…) and software (operational unit choices, heater set-points, timing…) to adjust the in situ analysis of tomorrow's samples, according to what today's analysis tells us.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

This is my tenth mission developing either spacecraft or instruments. I cut my teeth on the Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite: 10 instruments, some of which operated nearly 20 years before the spacecraft recently burned in.

What kind/level of education do you have?

Masters in EE, but my home metal shop experience is almost as valuable as the education.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Currently, playing tenor sax and working out, are two of three things that provide great endorphin rushes.

+ Florence Tan:

Florence TanWhat is your role in the SAM project?

SAM Electrical Lead

What about SAM do you find most interesting?

Interesting: Getting all the players and pieces to play together. I love my job because there is a new wrinkle to solve everyday. The job is fun because it is interesting and challenging. The people who support SAM are great co-workers that have many varied interests besides being superb engineers, scientists, and specialists. Contrary to the public view of nerdy engineers and scientists, we have among us accomplished chefs, divers, pilots, lawyer, master woodworkers, kayakers as can be seen by each person's "favorite things" question. Working with the A-team makes working on SAM and Curiousity is a lot of fun and never boring. I can't wait till we land and start roving.

Most challenging?

SAM is a complex instrument suite with intricately put together subsystems that are in their own right, just as complex. Building SAM within time and budget (mass, cost, power, volume) constraints and getting everyone to work together is an achievement in human collaboration.

Have you worked on other missions or flight instruments? If so which ones?

ISTP/WIND instruments APE, ELITE, IT, CASSINI INMS & GCMS, NOZOMI NMS, CONTOUR NGIMS

What kind/level of education do you have?

BSEE, MSEE, MBA

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

When I am not busy on SAM, I teach a early morning yoga class for my fellow SAM- ites. I can't get Bob Arvey to join the class -- YET. I also volunteer teach Asian Cooking (Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Fusion) as a fund-raiser activity once a year and I tutor pre-calc /calc classes for my neighborhood kids. I like to read any book by Bill Bryson (I have almost all his books) and books about the English Language. I love to go for walks and hikes with the SAM software lead and play many of our varied and interesting board games with my family and friends.

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