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Public Lecture by Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu


On Monday, November 20 2010, Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, a Senior Robotics Engineer at NASA, delivered a well-attended public lecture titled: Great Adventures on the Surface of Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and Phoenix Lander, at the City Campus of Regent University College of Science & Technology, Accra.

 

In this lecture, which was a "down-to-earth" multimedia presentation devoid of scientific jargon, the Ghanaian-born robotics engineer enlightened the audience, first, on the fascinating issue of robotic space exploration, and then focused on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers (Sprit, Opportunity and Phoenix), and his contributions to the success of the programme. Dr. Trebi-Ollennu intimated that the main objective of the these explorations was to seek answers to the following questions regarding the existence of water on Mars:

  • When was it present on the surface?
  • How much and where?
  • Where did it go?
  • Did it persist long enough for life to have developed?

The NASA scientist then proceeded to catalogue the various adventures they embarked on, the technical challenges they encountered and how they worked tirelessly to resolve them, and concluded by saying that the soil on the surface of Mars is much like that on earth. "Indeed, you can grow okro on Mars," he joked.

Dr. Trebi-Ollennu also paid tribute to his co-workers, and continually emphasized the collaborative and supportive manner in which they worked together to achieve the desired goals. Indeed, so remarkable was their achievement that in 2008, they were awarded the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal "for exceptional technical contributions to the Mars Exploration Rovers, providing comprehensive engineering support pre-and post-launch, including resolutions of rover anomalies."

Slides of Dr. Trebi-Ollennu's lecture are available here in pdf.