A satellite expert samples life on Mars

Barbara (Manganis) Braun ’95

People have but to bake bread on Mars, however Barbara (Manganis) Braun ’95 has come nearer than most.

Braun is principal director within the company chief engineer’s workplace of the Aerospace Company, which operates the one federally funded R&D middle devoted solely to house enterprise, together with know-how, security, and coverage. Her days may embrace drafting coverage suggestions or planning the elimination of a decommissioned satellite tv for pc from orbit. However for 2 weeks in late 2022, she was one in all six folks Aerospace despatched to the Mars Desert Analysis Station (MDRS) in a distant area of Utah for an immersive simulation.

Braun’s engineering credentials and expertise as an EMT and former mountain rescue volunteer helped safe her spot because the mission’s well being and security officer. She piloted a health routine, ran a trial analyzing how communications delays may have an effect on astronauts, and took part in analysis on 3D terrain mapping and extra. She additionally supplemented the crew’s shelf-stable weight-reduction plan with recent bread she made utilizing dehydrated flakes of her personal sourdough starter. 

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Throughout a simulation on the Mars Desert Analysis Middle in Utah, Braun works in an area swimsuit and shows bread she baked utilizing her dehydrated sourdough starter.

At MDRS Braun noticed “how useful our future astronauts are going to must be when assistance is eight months away.” Her remoted cohort needed to troubleshoot all the pieces from malfunctioning spacesuit electronics to a backed-up rest room. “There’s the glamour of spaceflight, however generally the mundane interferes,” she says wryly.

Drawn to MIT by her fascination with house, she says being an aero-astro main on an ROTC scholarship gave her the boldness to grasp unfamiliar topics rapidly. “Barely unsanctioned extracurriculars” (learn: hacks) had been equally formative. “Nothing teaches you undertaking administration abilities like working a type of,” she observes.

Throughout 5 years of energetic Air Pressure obligation in New Mexico, she obtained hooked on satellites after assembling one in all her personal and putting in it on the house shuttle on the Kennedy House Middle. She remained within the Air Pressure reserves for practically 20 years whereas working at Aerospace. Early on, she joined the workforce supporting CloudSat, a NASA cloud-measuring satellite tv for pc flying in formation with a French counterpart. When CloudSat suffered a battery anomaly, Braun designed the maneuvers to return it to its authentic orbit, which she says was “like pulling onto a freeway once you solely get the chance as soon as each 60 days.” 

At the moment, Braun focuses on issues like the right way to create satellite tv for pc launch protocols that may adapt to quickly altering know-how. “My pleasure remains to be in fixing the onerous technical issues,” she says. “It’s simply that the issues are larger.”

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