I build robots for NASA.  I encounter avalanches, toxic gases, and even living volcanoes to test my inventions - it's dangerous, but I love it.

I build robots for NASA. I encounter avalanches, toxic gases, and even living volcanoes to test my inventions – it’s dangerous, but I love it.

Calind Carpenter.Calind Carpenter

  • Calind Carpenter, 41, is a robotics engineer at NASA in Pasadena, California.

  • Carpenter creates space robots that climb ice walls and dive into extraterrestrial oceans.

  • He has tested robots in Antarctica and also carried them to the live volcano on Mount St. Helens.

This article is said to be based on a conversation with Calind Carpenter, a 41-year-old robotics engineer from Pasadena, California, about building robots for NASA. Edited for length and clarity.

I remember the first day I walked through the doors of NASA and saw the building where the lunar modules were born. I was hooked.

I studied industrial engineering and product engineering at Arizona State University, then started a master’s program in mechanical engineering at California State University in 2010. California entered into a partnership with NASA, which means that during my master’s period I got a chance to be a researcher for a NASA-project Supported for 18 months.

Prior to completing my master’s, I was working as an engineering intern at NASA in Pasadena. without CSU-LA Relationship as a NASA Research CenterI didn’t have these opportunities. I cried with joy when I was accepted. Now, I work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Over the past eight years, I’ve helped create bots

I represented Arizona State University in gymnastics, and this skill has helped me think of all the different ways I can get robots to balance and move. I worked on sprayer, a robot for Mars blowing on site — its tractor-like tires help it roll and climb over steep surfaces. I also worked on ice wormwhich was a robot that could climb snowy walls, and I helped make it A robot designed to find life in the ocean One of Saturn’s moons.

One of the best advantages of working at NASA is the ability to see missions come to life. NASA attracts an amazing group of individuals from all over the world, and being able to interact with people you deeply respect is another big plus – launch parties are a plus too.

The most memorable party was the March 2020 landing party, during the epidemic, when it was perseverance rover Landed on the red planet. It was February 18, 2021, near Mardi Gras, so there were colorful hats everywhere. There were VIP groups, limousines, and press, but the strangest thing I can remember is when a colleague and I had to give a presentation on EELS in a huge hall later that day. We were wearing two hats so everyone could see us on stage.

The Pasadena Lab has been working for years on different iterations of a single robot and searching for the harshest environments on Earth to test its robots to the limits. I’ve sent my robots to Antarctica, mapped volcanic fissures in Hawaii, and used the Rainbow Basin and Pisga Crater in the Mojave Desert as a counterpart to Mars.

One of my most challenging flights for NASA was in July 2021

I went to the ice caves of Mount Saint Helens volcano. Mount Saint Helens is so dangerous that parts of it are dangerous prohibited to the public. On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted 500 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Now, the cave is visited by a few ice cave explorers and scientists every year to look for signs of future eruptions.

While they do their research, we go into the cave with them and test the robots. We chose this network of ice caves filled with steam vents as an analogue of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. Enceladus also has water vapor vents, but they shoot out into space to form one of Saturn’s rings. I worked with a team to create the articulated Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) robot, which resembles a string of beads and adapts to undulating terrain. It is designed to dive into one of the holes on this moon and explore the ocean below.

When we work on Mount St. Helens, we encounter rockslides, avalanches, open fissures, and toxic gases. I have been a fan of caves since I was a teenager. For this expedition, NASA protocol required us to hike several peaks around Southern California, including Mount Whitney, for physical and environmental training. We also had to do CPR and hypothermia training, and the mountain safety team provided helicopter, rope and snow safety training on site.

On this expedition, we camped on the glacier at the top of the volcano, but a wave of warm weather melted the glacier under the tents. We had to constantly dig up new flat areas where we could pitch tents.

While we were teaching the robot how to find new life on other planets, it helped us find new life on Earth

Our goal for this trip was to test the EELS payload. We manually fed the robot samples of dirt and ice from inside the caves so that it would learn what to do when it reached Enceladus. When we passed the samples through a 3D digital microscope, we found single-celled creatures, about 1/100th the thickness of a hair, swimming.

Our expedition to the cave also helped us test sensors that were able to make accurate maps of this environment. Ice reflects light and laser differently than rocks and vegetation, and water vapors make it hard to see, too.

The spacecraft will take 12 years to reach Enceladus from Earth, but it will only take 90 minutes to send its results back to Earth. hope to be Orbelander’s Journey in 2038 It will carry the EELS robot.

When I was four years old, I would look up at the night sky over my parents’ farm and dream of being an astronaut

When I was eight I asked for my bedroom to be covered with pictures of planets, and when I turned 10 I was building Lego space bases, robots, and spaceships.

I still dream of the moon, but now I also think of the world of oceans and the moons that lie throughout our solar system. I know that the technologies being built will help us on Earth fight climate change, produce sustainable energy, and increase food safety and security.

At the same time, as a robotics engineer at NASA, I also aim to inspire more four-year-olds to pursue their dreams and make a better future.

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