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NASA - Instrument Manager for THEMIS, Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley
July 21, 2006
 
Photo of Michael Ludlam Michael Ludlam

Michael Ludlam
NASA THEMIS Instrument Manager
Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley


As instrument manager for THEMIS, my responsibility is for the delivery of the five sets of instrument suites to the THEMIS probes. At the Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, I work closely with the instrument scientists; the mission systems engineer, Ellen Taylor; and project management to get the most out of each of the sensors we are building. I have to balance the desire to build the best scientific experiments the scientists want with the resources available on the spacecraft, and make sure that is all done in time so that they are ready for launch.

We've squeezed everything in so we get the most science return for the mission, that's been tough to do with only about 15Watts of power and slightly over 20kg of mass. To achieve this we've had to integrate together as many components as possible to save precious mass and power. This has meant co-ordinating closely with institutes in Austria, France, Germany and Colorado as well as colleagues here at UC Berkeley.

A lot of my work has been to build the main instrument electronics box called the IDPU (Instrument Data Processing Unit). It houses the power supplies, the instrument computer and electronics boards for most of the sensors. It's been a real labor of love, from initial designs to seeing the completed boxes ready to be put onto the spacecraft.

Prior to THEMIS, I worked at Imperial College, London in the UK building instruments for the European Space Agency on the Rosetta and Double Star missions.

When not working on THEMIS I divide my time between skiing in the winter and climbing and mountaineering in the summer.
 

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