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How Do You Test a Helicopter Bound for Mars?


Caltech grad students helped JPL build a custom wind tunnel in a vacuum chamber for the Mars Ingenuity helicopter. The Ingenuity helicopter may be the first vehicle ever to fly on Mars, but Mars was not the first place it has ever flown. Before packaging it up and blasting it to the Red Planet, engineers at JPL gave the helicopter a trial run in a special wind tunnel. The fan array was designed and built by JPL engineers with input from Chris Dougherty and Marcel Veismann, who are currently working with Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering and Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair of Caltech's Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST). Jason Rabinovitch, who was a mechanical engineer at JPL working on testing the helicopter, reached out to the CAST team in 2017. "I'd earned my PhD at GALCIT, so I was aware of CAST and its facilities," says Rabinovitch. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT Morteza Gharib Jason Rabinovitch Marcel Veismann Chris Dougherty

2013 Caltech Space Challenge


This year's Caltech Space Challenge was led by Aerospace graduate students Nick Parziale and Jason Rabinovitch. The competition divided 32 students from 21 different universities into two teams: Voyager and Explorer. The teams had to devise a detailed plan to send astronauts to one of Mars' two moons, Phobos or Deimos. Team Voyager was announced as the winner at a reception at the Athenaeum after each team presented their plan to a jury of space experts. [ article] [Pasadena Star-News article] [Pasadena Sun article]

Tags: GALCIT Space Challenge Nick Parziale Jason Rabinovitch