Sac State Magazine

Spring 2016

Sac State Magazine is a publication produced by the Office of Advancement Communications and Stewardship at Cal State University, Sacramento highlighting alumni, students, faculty and staff.

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Space travel is big business back home. Aeronautics and aerospace research generates $1 billion in spending in California each year. Developing products that are out of this world (Mars rover, anyone?) is the job of Charles Baker '92, Aerospace Engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. W hen it comes to professional goals, those of Charles Baker '92 (Geography) are literally out of this world. Baker is an aerospace engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, where his work has made international headlines. "Seven years ago, I became lead mission planner for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity that searches areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable to life," says Baker. "We enjoyed a picture- perfect landing in 2012 when our 2,000-pound, car-sized rover touched down." Since then, Curiosity has found organic carbon compounds, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and sulfur—key ingredients necessary for life. As the United States government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research, NASA employs 18,000 people across the country. JPL is managed and staffed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology. "The return on investment is substantial," Baker adds. "Anything that has to do with robotic interplanetary exploration is a payback to the general public especially when you consider that Opportunity rover is still operating on Mars after 11 years and the Voyager is still returning data after 38 years with plans to continue until 2025. In addition, the mechanical engineering marvels that we invent from space exploration technologies such as carbon fiber have many uses in the general industry, such as aircraft, automobiles and sporting goods." It's positive outcomes like these, says Baker, that propel him to continue working toward the next giant leap—a human mission to Mars. 16 S AC S TAT E M AGA Z I N E | S pr i ng 2 016 TECHNOLOGY CALIFORNIA Dreaming Photo courtesy of Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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