Jet Propulsion Lab Engineer Gives Insights into Saturn Mission


JPL engineer Todd Barber
JPL engineer Todd Barber
Todd Barber, a senior Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer who has led explorations to Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, will give a talk Tuesday, March 11, on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

Barber’s presentation, “Lord of the Rings: The Cassini Mission to Saturn,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Room 1404 Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science. The UIUC American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics student branch, the AIAA Illinois Section, and the Illinois Space Society are hosting the event together.

Barber is JPL’s lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission, launched October 15, 1997, on its 2-billion-mile, 7-year journey to the ringed planet.

He worked part time on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) 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 December 7, 1995. For this work, Barber earned the 1996 Exceptional Achievement Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Barber also was lead impactor propulsion engineer on Deep Impact, which, traveling at 23,000 miles per hour, successfully crashed into Comet Tempel-1 on Independence Day, 2005. He helped with the Space Infra-Red Telescope Facility (SIRTF) 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”). This mission included flybys of a near-Earth asteroid, Braille, and a comet named Borrelly.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Barber earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a humanities concentration in music.