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Hendrix Union Interviews Alumna Involved in New Horizons Mission

CONWAY, Ark. (October 19, 2016) – The Hendrix Union conducted a Q&A Seminar with Chelsey Bryant Krug ’01, who worked on the New Horizons space probe.

Here is the transcript of their questions and her responses. (Special thanks to Chirag Lala ’17 for sharing this information)

Chelsey Krug ’01 was one of the student contributors to the Student Dust Counter on the New Horizons Probe that just recently made its historic flyby. She worked on the probe while studying aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder where she still works to this day as a Production Manager in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.   

If you could name one completely unexpected find from the New Horizons mission, what would it be? 

This would be discovering the many moons of Pluto. Initially we only thought that Pluto had 2 moons. We now know it has five moons. 

Did you do any follow up work on New Horizons?

No. I did not work on New Horizons after I graduated. My participation was on the Student Dust Counter which as the name says, requires that you are a student to work on it. I actually graduated from grad school the spring before the launch occurred, so was unable to work on it any longer past that point.  (We delivered the instrument while I was still a student though, so I did work on it all the way to completion of build) 

What did you design the dust collector to do?

The goal of the dust counter was to count dust particles while traveling between earth and Pluto. By doing this we can advance our understanding of the origin of our own universe and also learn information to help scienists study planet formation in dust disks around other stars. 

Have you been satisfied with the performance and results of the dust collector? 

Yes the dust counter has been successful and worked correctly since launch. 

If there is a next 'big discovery' from New Horizons, what do you anticipate it might be? 

New Horizons is now traveling into the Kuiper belt. We are aware of quite a few Kuiper belt objects already but I suspect that the next big thing that New Horizons will teach us is of other large Kuiper belt objects we have not yet identified. 

Do you have an opinion on what the American space program should be concentrating its resources and attention on? (e.g. manned missions, probes, etc.) 

Hmmm this one is a hard one to answer.  Personally I would love to see more American Astronauts get to go to space and I am angry and sad that NASA has cut the space budget so much that this is limited at this time. Plus our lack of having a “shuttle” to take us to space disappoints me. the Government should have been more proactive to have a new shuttle in place when the old ones were retired. On a professional level though, since I currently only work in the unmanned side of space exploration, I think that we can explore and accomplish so much more with the current NASA budget by sticking to unmanned space crafts. The cost to send a satellite to space is so much less than sending a shuttle with humans aboard.

Do you have any projects you're currently working on? 

Currently I am the production manager at the laboratory for atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). That means I manage all areas in the production group which include the machine shop, Electrical assembly, Polymerics, The Cleaning lab and Mechanical Assembly.  Our group is responsible from building up the flight design of a project after it is designed by the engineers. 

Do you have any recommendations for undergraduates looking to go into aerospace engineering, particularly if they go to a school (like Hendrix) without an aerospace program of sorts? 

Get involved with undergraduate research opportunities! I tell everyone I can this piece of advice. I worked with Dr. Robert Dunn while I was at Hendrix on two separate research projects. Most of the work was done during the summer, but we did a bit during the school year as well. I worked on the 2nd largest Ring Laser in the world with Dr. Dunn and also on a hybrid Rocket. Having that research experience on my resume helped tremendously to get my current job and I believe also to get accepted to every single graduate school I applied to.

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