Dr Sanjay Vijendran
Applied Physicist, ESA Ice Penetrator Project, Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration

Sanjay Vijendran trained as a physicist at Imperial College London and followed postgraduate studies in 3D semiconductor development at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, UK. His long interest in Mars exploration led him to a very fortunate opportunity of joining the Science Team of the NASA Phoenix Mars mission in 2006 while working as a Research Fellow at Imperial College, where he was responsible for the development and testing of the MECA microscopy station, an instrument on Phoenix which included and optical and atomic force microscope. After the successful Phoenix landing on Mars in 2008, he was part of the operations team that operated the instruments on Mars for five months, producing the highest resolution images of Martian soil and dust, ever to be taken on the Red Planet. Following that, he moved to the European Space Agency in the Netherlands where he has since been coordinating the technology developments for future Mars missions as well as initiating and leading ESA's Penetrator development programme since 2009. Despite hailing from the tropics, his professional career has always involved very low temperatures, whether in semiconductor physics, the Martian arctic or the icy moons of Jupiter!
 

In his talk, he will present an overview of his work since 2009, leading the Penetrator development programme of ESA's Science & Robotic Exploration Directorate. The highlight of the programme so far has been the full-scale breadboarding and impact testing of a Europa penetrator at high velocities which was conducted successfully in 2013, demonstrating survivability and robustness of the overall mechanical and thermal design of the penetrator. He will show the results from the reference mission design phase, the penetrator system design and the small and full-scale testing that was done. And outlook for both technology development and mission opportunities will also be provided.