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August 20, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology and Innovation: ASU/Mars 2020 Mission

  |   Video
  • NASA has chosen Arizona State University to design and operate a camera system for the Mars 2020 mission. The University will design, deliver and oversee Mastcam-Z imaging, a pair of color panoramic zoom cameras for the next rover mission to be launched to the surface of Mars in 2020. Jim Bell, a professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, will be the principal investigator overseeing the project. He will discuss ASU’s involvement in the Mars 2020 Mission.
  • Jim Bell - Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, asu, nasa, mars, 2020 mission, space, exploration, project,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Technology and Innovation" looks at ASU's role of designing operating on-board cameras for the next rover mission to Mars. Jim Bell is in charge of ASU's part in the mission. Good to have you here.

Jim Bell: Good to be here, Ted.

Ted Simons: ASU is designing operating cameras for NASA? Talk to us about this.

Jim Bell: We've got cameras and other instruments all over the solar system. There's something like spacecraft exploring the solar system. There are cameras on Mars, on the surface of Mars, around Saturn that people are involved with, cameras on the way to an asteroid, Mercury, the moon, just a fabulous time for space exploration.

Ted Simons: And again, for this particular mission now we've got color, panoramic, zoom cameras and they are stereoscopic. What does all that mean?

Jim Bell: It means we'll take some great pictures of the red planet. The next rover that goes will launch in . It'll be very much like -- you may be familiar with the "Curiosity" Rover, the big Mini Cooper sized spacecraft that landed a few years ago. NASA is using a lot of spare parts from that to help save money, keep the costs down. But this will have a bit of a different mission. Unlike "Curiosity," this new rover, which doesn't have a name yet, they will name it someday, will be designed to collect and cache samples. There will be a little container on board and it'll put drill cores in there, we'll scoop some dirt, maybe some atmospheric samples. And a future mission in the 20s will go and get that cache and bring it back.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Jim Bell: Our cameras will be taking pictures of the rocks and sand and dust and dirt and formations and layers, trying to help best choose those samples to eventually bring back to the earth.

Ted Simons: And these two cameras ASU is helping to develop and these sorts of things, if I'm not mistaken, are they like the eyes of the Rover? That is a good analogy?

Jim Bell: That's a very good analogy, Ted. We think of the rovers as alive in a sense, we think of them as robotic field geologists. They have eyes, they can spin around and look up and down. Their wheels like the legs, you can move them around and give us mobility. There's an arm and on the end are fingers, a camera, there's a drill, there's other chemical instruments kind of like the nose that let you sniff the terrain and get the chemistry and the minerology. Yeah, we do anthropomorphize them, make them human. But they are just robots and only as smart as the people that program them.

Ted Simons: But they are very smart, you guys are pretty smart.

Ted Simons: Red green blue color imaging?

Jim Bell: And we'll get picture like we would see with our own eyes, we see in the red green blue. Because they are using digital detectors we can also see in the ultraviolet a little more forth into the blue, and a little farther into the infrared, farther into the red. There is a range we can see. Rocks and minerals reflect light in different ways so we can do a little bit of sort of chemical-mineral analysis with the cameras, too.

Ted Simons: As far as the zoom is concerned, how tight can you get, how wide can you get?

Jim Bell: We can get very tight, down to seeing features that are only sort of a millimeter or so in size from our position up on the mast a couple of meters away from the ground. We enter face with a microscope on the arm, as well. We can go from the macroscopic panoramic view all the way down to the millimeter scale, it goes down to tens of microns scale. We can see textures and features with these cameras.

Ted Simons: That's a nice range for anyone's camera.

Jim Bell: It is.

Ted Simons: As far as ASU's part in this, you are leading this. Are you going to go to NASA or lead from Tempe?

Jim Bell: We're working with a small company in San Diego called maylin systems. We're working with them, we'll do a bunch of the fabrication there, and some of the testing on the Tempe campus. Well, once the cameras are built, we deliver them to the jet propulsion lab in Pasadena where they are building the whole rover. They are bolted on the top of the rover. It's on the Tempe campus, it's the same as "Curiosity," it looks the same. We deliver this tomorrow JPL in Pasadena. They do the final testing and make sure we didn't leave the lens caps on or anything like that. It gets buttoned up inside a cruise and launch configuration that gets shipped to Florida, and put on top of the rocket. Early to mid that rocket will launch to Mars. It'll take nine months to a year depending on exactly when they launch. It'll all still be kind of cocooned up. In a very rapid amount of time, just a few hours' time, everything opens up as it enters the Martian atmosphere. There's a heat shield, a parachute floats down. You may have seen "Curiosity" landing with the jet packs and lowering the Rover down this crane. We'll do the same thing for this vehicle. Get down to the surface, the mast will pop up and then we'll open our eyes and hopefully we will have done our job right.

Ted Simons: That'll be a time when you will be very nervous.

Jim Bell: I'm already nervous.

Ted Simons: As far as ASU being chosen, how was ASU chosen? Why was ASU chosen?

Jim Bell: There was an international competition NASA had. The administration and Congress decided, we're going to send another rover to Mars in . NASA sends out an announcement to the world saying, we want to know what the best instruments are for that Rover. You know, we need images, we need chemical analysis instruments, instruments to drill, et cetera. So we wrote a proposal, a group of us at ASU and colleagues from around the country and around the world actually, some European colleagues, as well. Formed a family, wrote a proposal to respond to that, to try to fit within the resources, the mass, the volume, the power, the cost. It's a box you've got squeeze into all of these programs. We submitted our proposal last January. And it turned out other teams submitted their proposals, too. There was a lot. Work been doing out there preparing for the opportunities like this. So very competitive. I don't know how many cameras we competed against. I don't know the details of all the proposals, it's a very, you know, carefully closed process with reviews and all that kind of stuff. In the end they picked seven instruments and we're one of them.

Ted Simons: Congratulations and good luck. You know what's ahead of you for the next few years what you're going to be busy with.

Jim Bell: I'm going to be busy building cameras to go to Mars.

Ted Simons: Excellent, excellent, good to have you here.

Flooding in the Valley

  |   Video
  • Randy Cerveny from the School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University will talk about all of the flooding in the city yesterday. He will explain why it happened and how it can be prevented.
  • Randy Cerveny - Professor, School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, weather, flooding, arizona, valley, phoenix, asu, city, prevention,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Yesterday's monsoon storms made for massive flooding around the Valley with some areas mainly to the north getting as much as five inches of rain. It got so bad parts of I-17 near Dixiletta Road turned into a river of muddy water from a nearby wash. Joining us to talk about all this is Randy Cerveny from the ASU School of Geographical Sciences. This is amazing stuff.

Randy Cerveny: Good to see you.

Ted Simons: Where was the worst spot as far as flooding was concerned?

Randy Cerveny: Most of the storm yesterday was centered over the Northern part but there were parts in the southeast that hardly got a drop associated with this big mass of water that came up from Mexico.

Ted Simons: I-17 sounds like New River became a big river, Levine seemed to be hit again. Are those always the places that seem to be hit the worst when it comes to flooding?

Randy Cerveny: It depends on the movement of the storms. In this particular case the storms were coming up from the South, and what happens is the topography plays a really, really big role. When the moisture hits a slope that slopes up, it can drop out that moisture. In this particular case the moisture hit that upslope area and then sat there and kept running into it and dumping more and more water. It's very much topography based. It's where the Valley turns into an upland slope that you're going to get the most flooding.

Ted Simons: The previously same thing at South mountain, where it ran up the mountain and just sat there.

Randy Cerveny: During the monsoon we don't have very strong winds aloft that move these things really fast. In the Midwest, storms move really fast because the jet stream is pushing them along. Here during our monsoons there's nothing to basically push the thunderstorm once it gets started. When it finds a mountain, it keeps pushing the moisture up and up the mountain and sits there.

Ted Simons: We had an incident from Skunk Creek, water gets into the CAP canal -- how does that happen?

Randy Cerveny: The amount of water funneled in from Sun Creek through this particular storm was incredible. We were getting four and a half to five inches over a four-hour period. That is a return time that we would expect to see only once every to, years. So this is a pretty rare event that we were looking at.

Ted Simons: We heard once in a thousand year event when it was parked over South Mountain last week. What's going on over there?

Randy Cerveny: It’s kind of like two winners of the lottery from the Valley. It can happen, it's rare, but in this particular case we had two thousand-year events. They were located in different areas, both associated with localized storms.

Ted Simons: Did areas not used to flooding get hit more this time around? Or again, are these the usual suspects?

Randy Cerveny: These are pretty much the usual suspects. We've had flooding around New River to Black Canyon City in the past. Where exactly it happens is a function of the localized thunderstorm itself. Where this terrain turns into more of an upslope position, it's going to be the areas where we have the greatest chance for the water to be funneled down into the rivers.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, are the flood control efforts out there, are they simply not used to this kind of rain? Are they not -- are our efforts not prepared for this kind of thing?

Randy Cerveny: I think we actually handled it pretty well. There was no loss of life, there were some pretty incredible rescues, but not any loss of life. The key is how many people are affected as to what we want to do. Back many decades ago there was a similar type of situation over Indian Bend in Scottsdale.

Randy Cerveny: What they decided to do was simply change the withhold MMM wash area into a greenbelt so it would not influence people. It would be trapped in golf courses that exist in that area. We could do something like that but it would cost money, and the amount of people affected would be less than Scottsdale.

Ted Simons: The Indian Bend wash was hit again, although people had to be rescued from El Dorado Park on McDowell and Miller because again, it got too high.

Randy Cerveny: And part of it, too, is just a lack of knowledge. A lot of people that have come to the valley and just -- in just say the last five to years don't realize how quickly the situation can change. That where places like maybe Tempe or Scottsdale only get a little bit of water, when that water gets funneled down into a stream system, it can rapidly turn a dry river bed into a raging torrent.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, can't we get -- something like yesterday, will that change the topography? Will that change the geography? Will it change the way the washes run in areas that were flooded? Are they carving out a new normal?

Randy Cerveny: They are definitely geologic scale events, so there have been changes in the actual landscape of the area, say around South mountain or around New River. Now, what happens, though, is the city will go in and actually re-channel things so that it doesn't start to form a new normal. They will try to get it back to a more normalized flow.

Ted Simons: The idea of flood control efforts after something like this, how far do you go? How far do you change things? Hay, it's once ever thousand years, good luck to our next generation?

Randy Cerveny: I think it's a cost-benefit situation. You have to look at how many are impacted and what the cost of doing those changes would actually be. Also I think we need to make sure people are aware of the logistics. You don't put a home down in a dry lake bed or dry river bed here in Arizona. It's just a silly thing to do.

Ted Simons: But they are doing it, aren't they?

Randy Cerveny: It's really nice to have those trees you find along these normally dry riverbeds, to build a house around. But those dry riverbeds can be --

Ted Simons: It's not so nice to watch your home float away while you're on the bank waving good-bye. Are there ordinances or should there be more in the way of making sure folks aren't building in floodplains?

Randy Cerveny: And that's a problem. There are a lot of places where developments have gone in and not really taken into account the local topography and the local drainage patterns. If you go up around Deer Valley there are dams built where you have housing on both sides of the dam. Obviously that doesn't work very well. I think what we have to do is make sure when these housing tracts are going in, that the planners take into account not only how many people they can jam into a given area, but also the underlying topography, the underlying landscape that exists, and try to work with it as much as possible.

Ted Simons: New River, Black Canyon City, those areas especially in the North. We saw I- and Dixiletta Road and the water coming out, when they -- will you get slow-moving wet monsoons, are they just always -- are we going see this kind of thing, maybe not alongside the freeway, I still don't know how it got alongside of the freeway, somebody has to do something about that. Basically that's the way it is?

Randy Cerveny: There are some places in the Valley that do tend to get more concentrated storms for some reason or another. Union hills commonly floods when we get a monsoon thunderstorm. The question is how much gets into these areas and how fast are the pumps that can pump it out. When the freeways for example, when they flood, they simply can't handle the amount of water going into the system.

Ted Simons: Last question I've asked this numerous times to you and others. I've been here a long time. Seems like in the past the west side never got the storms. It was always dry and the storms came around somewhere in the east side. Doesn't it seem to you in the last years or so the west side is getting hammered by storms more so than in the past?

Randy Cerveny: I think there are some cycles to this. Yes, it seemed like the east side was the place getting the buildup, you would watch it coming off the superstition mountains and coming into Mesa or Tempe. I think what happens, because the monsoon is such an individual beast, each year's is different from the last. Sometimes it'll come in from the west and the east but we haven't figured out why so we don't know.

Ted Simons: We really don't know. It's been a pretty good summer though, hasn't it?

Randy Cerveny: The actual temperatures have been great. We all know, parts of the Valley got their share of monsoon water.

Ted Simons: Good to see you again.

Randy Cerveny: My pleasure.

Trading with Mexico

  |   Video
  • Arizona is boosting trade between Tucson and Mexico. Learn how to help the two neighbors bridge the gap.
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, trading, mexico, arizona, tucson, neighbors, gap,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Mexico has the the largest economy in the world and is expected to continue to grow over the coming decades. Tucson is working to strengthen business relationships with Sonora. Fernanda Echavarri has the story.

Fernanda Echavarri: Government and business leaders in Mexico and the U.S. say both countries benefit from thinking about Arizona and Sonora as one economic region. One of those government officials is Ramone Guzman Munoz, the mayor of Sonora. [in Spanish]

Fernanda Echavarri: Last year 9.5 million people crossed into the United States at ports of entry in Arizona. Guzman Munoz says Americans and Mexicans must learn to do business with each other. They talked about immigration, highways, transportation, and how both states can learn to conduct cross-border business more successfully. Juan Padres focuses on helping both countries understand each other.

Juan Padres: I grew up on the border so I understand both cultures very, very well. I know how to do business in Mexico and I know how to do business in the U.S. Part of my job is to bridge that gap.

Fernanda Echavarri: He does that across many industries in Sonora.

Juan Padres: There's a hodgepodge of what we're seeing, everything from a very, very small business owner who has very limited production that wants to enter the U.S. market with huge manufacturing. We go to both sides of the scale and everything in between.

Fernanda Echavarri: The number of crossings is up to about 312,000, a year. That means wear and tear on the roads in both countries. Man-hours to regulate the flow and workers to load and unload the cargo. Sonora's economy has grown by about 6%, the largest growth in the aerospace, mining and automotive industries. Many in southern Arizona's business community wants Tucson to be the logistics Hub for cross-border commerce and trade.

Mike Valencia: Certainly we're in the growing stages right now, there's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put in place. We are catching up. This is something probably Tucson should have done , years ago just because of our strategic location. Once we start to put all of those assets in place and start to build all that infrastructure, and we start announcing to the world really, everybody outside of Tucson, that we're open for business, Tucson can take advantage of it tremendously.

Fernanda Echavarri: He says Tucson's future is in trade and logistics.

Mike Valencia: People last or some people might disagree when I say this could be another little Long Beach. When you start to put all these assets together of a seaport just four hours away, an east-west link on the rail, very good lines of communication on I-8, I-10, and three major airports that could potentially interlink with all of these other assets.

Fernanda Echavarri: Logistics are a part of doing business with other countries as are cultural matters. There are other unspoken rules that vary between two cultures.

Juan Padres: The biggest challenge so far is the cultural differences. You have a lot of Mexican business owners who don't speak English and don't really understand our laws and it's intimidating to go from one country to another, speak a different language, different way of doing business, different laws, different accounting rules. It's intimidating.

Fernanda Echavarri: Business owners in the U.S. experience similar intimidation.

Juan Padres: You know, there's a lot of companies with a lot of interest in going to Mexico. They understand there's a huge opportunity and opportunity to do business west of the Cascades we invite them, let's go do down to check out a few clients, possible familiarities -- Well, again, it's a different language, different culture, certain perceptions on both sides of the border whether it's crime in Mexico or SB in Arizona.

Fernanda Echavarri: Tucson Mayor Johnathan Rothschild says Arizona has felt the effects of such legislation. He has traveled to Mexico since he took office and says the state's economy could benefit from an increase in trade between the two countries. He says a good start is bringing back international flights to the Tucson International Airport.

Johnathan Rothschild: We hope and believe that by late fall we will have a direct flight, nonstop flight from Tuscon to Armacio. That's critical, once you go there, it's a hub for the rest of Mexico. You can go to anywhere from Mexico from there. That is important to us.

Fernanda Echavarri: In 2013, trade between Arizona and Mexico totaled 14$ billion split evenly between imports and exports. Arizona could improve it's trade rankings with Mexico.

Johnathan Rothschild: When you break it down by state, California is number one, Texas is number two, and that makes some sense because California, you're trading into the Pacific Rim and Texas, you're trading into the Midwest and the eastern part of the United States. Right now Illinois and Michigan are ahead of us, and that's just something that we can improve on and correct, and use as basis for building our own local economy.

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon" we will meet a local photographer who will explain how he creates unique stereographic images of the state. That's Thursday evening at and right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.