Jet Propulsion Lab engineer to speak about Saturn mission at UI

URBANA — A senior engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has led explorations to Saturn, Jupiter and Mars will deliver a talk Tuesday on the University of Illinois campus.

Todd Barber will present "Lord of the Rings: The Cassini Mission to Saturn" at 6:30 p.m. in Room 1404 in the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science, 201 N. Goodwin Ave., U.

Barber is the laboratory's lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission, which launched Oct. 15, 1997, on a 2-billion-mile, seven-year journey to the ringed planet.

He worked part time on the Mars Exploration Rover mission, which launched twin rovers to the red planet in June and July 2003. The Opportunity Rover continues going strong nearly 10 years after landing on Mars. Barber also worked on the Mars Sample Return mission and a Mars airplane study.

He was responsible for successfully maneuvering the spacecraft Galileo into Jupiter's Orbit on Dec. 7, 1995. For this, he earned NASA's 1996 Exceptional Achievement Award.

Barber also was lead impactor propulsion engineer on Deep Impact, which successfully crashed into Comet Tempel-1 while traveling at 23,000 mph on July 4, 2005. He helped with the Space Infra-Red Telescope Facility mission and the Stardust mission, and worked three years on the Deep Space One mission, the first NASA mission to use electric propulsion (a la "Star Trek").

A native of Wichita, Kan., Barber earned bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a humanities concentration in music.

The UIUC American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics student branch, the AIAA Illinois Section, and the Illinois Space Society are hosting the event.

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