John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Final Colloquium Series to Feature Stephen Johnstone of NASA JPL

The Spring 2017 Space Studies Colloquium Series focuses on leveraging technologies and infrastructures developed for past, present, and future NASA asteroid missions, and will feature several leading experts in this field.  The final presentation in this series will feature Stephen Johnstone,  NASA-JPL: ChemCam Mission Operations Lead, Intelligence and Space Research Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Presentation Title:  “Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover and the Road to Human Exploration of the Red Planet: An Operations and Engineering Perspective”

Date:  Monday, May 1, 2017

Time:  4:00 p.m. (Central time)

Location:  Ryan Hall, Room 111

About the topic:  Since landing on Mars August 6, 2012 the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity Rover has been exploring the Martian surface with the most sophisticated suite of instruments ever deployed to another planet. In addition, this nuclear powered car-sized rover has supporting orbital assets that allow for high data rate transmission and high-resolution orbital imagery. Landing at Gale crater (5°24′S 137°48′E / 5.4°S 137.8°E) using an innovative and complex entry, decent, and landing (EDL) system, MSL has demonstrated several key technologies and mission operation systems that will be critical when planning and executing a human mission to Mars. In this presentation, I’ll discuss the MSL mission from the perspective of tactical and strategic planetary mission operations, science and engineering goals of MSL, and what we’ve learned from the mission that will aid in the planning and preparation for the most extraordinary undertaking in human history – a crewed mission to Mars!

About the speaker: Stephen Johnstone is the lead mission operations engineer at Los Alamos National Lab for the ChemCam instrument suite currently exploring the Martian surface onboard NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover. A graduate of the UND Space Studies Department (MS 1997), Stephen also has degrees in Planetary Geology (BA 1994) and Space Systems Engineering (MS 2012) and has been involved with 18 space vehicle launches and their on-orbit and planetary surface operations. In addition, Stephen is a participating member of the Mars Human Landing Site Selection Working Group that is researching the best location for the first human outpost. In support of this work, Stephen is involved with a small group of researchers developing neutron spectrometer hardware for Mars applications that can provide high-resolution data with the aim of locating and quantifying the abundance of near subsurface water ice on Mars. In addition, Stephen is an active instructor pilot at Kirtland Air Force Base supporting training of military and civilian pilots. He is researching the effectiveness of flight simulation in aviation and spaceflight scenarios related to stress, complacency, and fatigue on piloting procedures for both terrestrial and planetary missions.


A live webcast which includes PowerPoint slides will be available here.  Please note:  this option is currently not operational on portable devices/tablets.

The Adobe Connect webcast is available here. Questions for the speaker may be posted at this site during the presentation.