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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Proves Engineering Truisms

Luke Dubord, technical group supervisor, avionics subsystem engineering group, NASA, laid some truth on the opening keynote audience at this week's Embedded Systems Conference in Boston.

Dubord is a member of the team that safely landed NASA’s Curiosity rover on the fourth planet from the sun, early on August 6, 2012, eastern time. Since then, it has been communicating with NASA's Mars Science Lab, passing valuable data and photos back to Earth.

In discussing the NASA Curiosity Rover's design, launch, successful landing, and continuing mission on Mars, Dubord touched on topics that, whether engineers want to accept or not, are real of all engineering, from simple consumer devices to complex spacecraft.

1. 'Fake it 'til you make it' doesn't apply to engineering.

“There are many things we can fake here on Earth. Gravity is one of the things we can't fake.” – Dubord

In discussing the challenges of planning for Curiosity's successes, gravity was a key issue. Gravity on Mars is only a third of the gravity of Earth, and not something easily coordinated for.

Unlike other professions where you might be able to fudge a bit here and there to reach a goal, facts are facts and numbers are numbers in engineering.

Continue reading on EBN sister site, EDN.

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