Episode 34: Computers! With Resident Space Expert Dean Mikolajczyk


This week, Beth gains a deeper understanding & appreciation on how COMPUTERS help NASA explore the cosmos with her returning guest and Resident Space Expert Dean Mikolajczyk. Here are the highlights:

  • Dean shares his insights from his days as programmer for the MARS rovers Spirit and Opportunity!
  • Dean explains how a democratic computer system works down to the second before a launch SAFE MODE (and why this feature on computers is so important).
  • The reason why Space X lands on a barge… (it depends on the payload, and trajectory, and a few other things).  It’s a beautiful partnership between computer software and hardware.
  •  Are the computer programmers the unsung heroes of our lunar landing successes? Dean answers this and all of my Casual questions on this fun episode.

“Humans are flawed. We’re also three miles from the launch pad. So even with binoculars, we couldn’t be able to see/ assess a problem, so let’s leave it up to the 20,000+ sensors on the external tank and on the Space Shuttle itself.”

Dean Mikolajczyk

About Dean:

  • BS Technical Photography
  • MS Astrophysics 
  • NASA MER Mars program
  • NASA Public Relations
  • Astronomy instructor & lecturer

Where to find Dean: