Chris Shinohara


Science Operations Center Manager,
University of Arizona


Chris Shinohara

Christopher Shinohara has had an exciting career working on instrumentation that has been sent to Mars since he came to work at the University of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, in 1991. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona and started his Mars instrumentation career working on the Mars Observer Gamma Ray Spectrometer (MO GRS) instrument as a software engineer. The gamma ray spectrometer instrument was to provide elemental composition maps and hydrogen concentrations of the surface of mars. Chris worked with the software team to develop the ground data system for commanding, receiving telemetry and processing the instrument data for the science team. After launch of the spacecraft, he also took over maintenance of the instrument flight software. Unfortunately, communication with the Mars Observer Spacecraft was lost during Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) and contact was never regained.

After the loss of the Mars Observer, Chris went to work on the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) as the lead software / instrument engineer. He worked on design, development and implementation of the instrument flight software. He also participated in the design and development of the ground data system for commanding, receiving telemetry and processing the instrument data for the science team. The IMP was to provide a 360 degree panorama of the martian surface, radiometric and atmospheric information. The Pathfinder mission was a huge success and IMP camera brought back fantastic surface images and science data of the Martian surface.

During the pathfinder mission Chris also started working on another set of cameras, the Surface Stereo Imager (SSI) and Robotic Arm Camera (RAC). These were cameras for the '98 Mars Surveyor Lander. Again he was the lead software / instrument engineer. He worked on design, development and implementation of the instrument flight software. He also participated in the design and development of the ground data system for commanding, receiving telemetry and processing the instrument data for the science team. The SSI was very similar to the IMP camera and had many of the same science goals, and the RAC was a very small camera that was mounted to the Robotic Arm. The RAC was to provide imaging information about the samples that would be retrieved from the martian surface and delivered to the other payload instruments for analysis. The RAC would also provide close-up imaging of the trench being excavated by the RA. Chris continued working on these instruments until the beginning of ATLO (Assembly Test and Launch Operations), when the instruments get integrated onto the spacecraft.

Just after the start of ATLO for the '98 Mars Survey Lander with the SSI and RAC, Chris moved to work on the 2001 Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray spectrometer ('01 GRS) as the lead software engineer. This instrument had similar science requirements to the MOGRS and would provide elemental composition and hydrogen concentrations maps of the surface. The hydrogen concentrations are used to determine the amount of water on the surface of the planet. Chris lead the instrument flight software and ground data system design, development and implementation. During the project Chris was asked to help with the development and implementation of the ground data system at UCLA for the '98 Mars Surveyor Lander. During the '01 GRS instrument development Chris became the instrument project manager. The '01 GRS instrument is very successful and has provided hydrogen concentration maps that have helped plan future landing sites for new Mars missions.

During the '01 GRS science mapping mission at Mars, Chris was asked to work on the Phoenix proposal. After the Phoenix mission was selected, Chris moved from being the '01 GRS project manager to the Science Operations Center Manager (SOC) for the Phoenix project at the University of Arizona. The SOC is where the science team will be collocated during landed mission operations for generating payload instrument science sequences for operations on the surface of Mars. The SOC will also be the location where the science team will receive training in preparation for surface operations. During the first year of the Phoenix project Chris was also asked to take on the responsibility for project management of the Phoenix Surface Stereo Imager and Phoenix Robotic Arm Camera.

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