• Event date
    Monday, April 15 2013


Monday 15th April 2013, Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast

15.30 to 17.00 (Refreshments served from 15.00)


“Hitting the Road on Mars: From the 2004 Mars Exploration Rovers to MSL: Curiosity”

Nagin Cox, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Nagin graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering and a BA in Psychology and was commissioned as an officer in the US Air Force. She later attended the Air Force Institute of Technology where she received a masters degree in Space Operations Systems Engineering.  As a captain, she served as an Orbital Analyst at NORAD/Space Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs.

After leaving the Air Force to pursue more civilian space applications, Nagin joined JPL in 1993 and began her time on planetary missions working in outer solar system projects. She served as the Deputy Team Chief of the engineering spacecraft flight team for NASA/JPL’s Galileo mission to Jupiter until February of 2000. She then moved to inner solar system exploration as the Deputy Team Chief of the Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Flight Team on the JPL Mars Exploration Rover Missions. Next Nagin spent two years in extra-solar exploration as the Deputy Project System Engineer on the Kepler telescope mission to search for earth-like planets around other stars and then became the Supervisor for the Surface Systems –Systems Engineering Group at JPL.  She returned to Mars Exploration and led the first proposal phase of InSIGHT, the recently selected next mission to Mars in 2016.  She is currently working on Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)- NASA’s newest rover on Mars that launched in Nov 2011 and successfully landed in August of 2012. On this mission, she has served in the past as the Assistant Flight System Engineering Manager and is currently part of the mission operations team operating the rover on Mars.


Since the beginning of time, people have been entranced by the night sky and by our nearest planetary neighbor- Mars.  From the early missions to Viking, Pathfinder and the more recent missions – Mars has been (and is) a challenging destination.  The Mars Exploration Rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 and have been successfully exploring ever since.  Come hear the story of their legacy and our newest rover on Mars- the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover. Curiosity landed on Mars spectacularly in August 2012 and is already making astounding discoveries as she explores the Red Planet.

Northern Ireland in Space – Presentation from two local companies of their Space story

Dr Andrew Dennis, Director of Product Management, Andor Technology

Andrew joined Andor originally in 1993 as project manager, then left to create his own company ‘Avalon Instruments’. He went on sell his company to Perkin Elmer, where he remained for a few years to develop the IR and Raman business. He returned to Andor in late 2009 to spearhead the global Product Management and Marketing activities. He holds a BSc in Chemistry from Queen’s University Belfast, where he also obtained his PhD in Vibrational Spectroscopy & Microscopy. Andrew is an astronomy enthusiast both inside and outside work.

Andor Technology is a global leader in the development and manufacture of high performance scientific digital cameras for academic, industrial and government applications.  One area that benefits from Andor cameras is astronomy, where they have been used to image the surface, or photosphere, of our own sun to try and unravel the complex dance of the gigantic forces at work.  Other scientists have looked at more distance objects to find exoplanets, planets which orbit distance stars, or to search out massive bursts of gamma rays from dying stars.  Whether imaging our local solar system or the deep reaches of space, Andor provides an invaluable tool for astronomy as they seek answers in the cosmos.

Dr Mark Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, LamhRoe

Dr. Kelly has an impressive record in the area of micro and millimetre wave product development. Having graduated from Queens University Belfast, BSc 1982, MSc 1984 and Ph.D 1996 he then worked for Wolfsson Electronics developing Microwave Radar Systems from 1984 to 1986. He joined the European Space Agency from 1986 to 1988 to work as Microwave Engineer for Ground Station Systems in Darmstadt Germany.

He followed this up by becoming R&D manager for Philips Radio Communication Systems in Dublin Ireland until 1990 which was followed by working at Queens University Belfast HFEG as a research assistant in the area of InP HBT characterisation, this led to his PH.D.

Following this he was founder of a spin out company in the area of microwave/mmwave active device circuit design which was subsequently bought out by Celeritek, Santa Clara, USA, for whom he went to the USA to work for 4 years. Mark also worked for another GaAs semiconductor company in the US, WJ Communications in Santa Clara, CA, until he became Principal Engineer for the HFEG at Queens University Belfast in 2004.

Mark has interests are in microwave/mmwave active device circuit design, integration and packaging and new applications for microwave/mmwave radar systems.

LamhRoe  – based at the Electronic Communications and Information Technology Building at NI Science Park, are involved in the development of Space components and subsystems and through their partners at Queens University Belfast design and manufacture Frequency Selective Surface (FSS) MEMs filters for space borne instrumentation satellites up to 750GHz which provides key data for Earth Observation and are integrated into low loss quasi-optic systems.