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Aug. 1, 2012

IV&V team wins NASA Project Achievement Award

The award-winning IVV MSL EDL Second Chance Analysis Team. Third from the left: MSIS engineer Jeremy Fienhold. Fourth from left: MSIS engineer Randall Hintz.

Fairmont, WV - This July, MSIS system engineers Jeremy Fienhold and Randall Hintz received a NASA Project Achievement Award as part of the IVV MSL Entry, Descent and Landing Second Chance Analysis Team working at NASA's Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, WV.

The analysis team was praised for its "flexibility and determination ... to quickly assess a difficult task and to effectively respond by providing detailed analysis of a major modification to a complicated MSL Entry, Descent and Landing procedure."

As part of developing and vetting the Mars Rover EDL system, NASA asked the team to analyze a fault protection aspect termed the EDL Second Chance (EDL SECC). This strategy involved stripping down the EDL Build flight software and modifying it to run on the backup Rover Compute Element (RCE) in case the prime RCE failed during Curiosity's entry, descent and landing.

"The JPL MSL team decided to go ahead with utilizing all of the onboard assets to increase the chances of a successful landing," said Fienhold, who served as the MSL IV&V Project Lead. "This late decision required a very quick turnaround on the analysis of an extremely intricate portion of the MSL mission. The MSL IV&V team performed exceptionally in providing quick feedback to the MSL Project on concerns and issues and in the long run, provided another stamp of approval that the software that was being developed would do what it was intended to do."

The team's task was to assess all associated artifacts and reviews in order to establish confidence that the flight software development would not adversely affect the nominal EDL build IV&V had already analyzed, and would operate correctly if called upon to take over EDL actions.

The award nomination by Shirley Savarino, the chief scientist on the IV&V contract, praised the team's speed and efficiency, saying the work was "much appreciated."

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