Benigno Sandoval, a Research and Development Engineer in ISR-5 (Space Instrument Realization) at Los Alamos National Laboratory, spoke to Rotarians on September 28 about his team’s work, focusing on the “design, fabrication, and delivery of custom space-based instruments for scientific and national security missions.” He described himself as just one member of many ‘super high-performing teams.’ Here Sandoval speaks about the SuperCam on the Perseverance rover. Perseverance, which landed in Jezero Crater on February 18 is considered the “centerpiece” for NASA’S 2020 Mars mission. According to the NASA website, “the SuperCam examines rocks and soils with a camera, laser and spectrometers to seek organic compounds that could be related to past life on Mars. It can identify the chemical and mineral makeup of targets as small as a pencil point from a distance of more than 20 feet (7 meters) ‘Sandoval explained it is part of the research ‘to look for past life and to prepare for living on Mars.’ Photo by Linda Hull
Benigno Sandoval, left, shows Rotary Club President Oliver Morris, a display model of the SuperCam body. The actual SuperCam weighs just under 11 lbs. Principal investigator Dr. Roger Wiens has described the SuperCam as ‘an improved version of the ChemCam laser on Mars rover Curiosity: SuperCam can additionally analyze minerals and molecules, and take color instead of only black-and-white pictures’. For more information about SuperCam, the Perseverance Mars rover, and NASA’s Mars missions, please go to https://mars.nasa.gov/
Born and raised in Los Alamos, Sandoval joined LANL in 2015. In high school he was a Rotary Student of the Month and attended Rotary Youth Leadership Academy. Sandoval completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 2013 and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with distinction from University of New Mexico in 2017.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course. A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950. Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.