SOAR Student Profiles

Luke Gormsen

Luke Gormsen

  • SOAR Position: Member; READY to SOAR Ambassador (2021-22); Alumni
  • Major: Professional Physics & Aerospace Technology
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. David Butler

Current Focus: A Comparative Review of Potential Landing Sites For a Long Term Mission to Mars

Project Description

In the last decade, the space industry has changed dramatically in thanks to a boom of interest and innovation from the private sector. Because of this, NASA is no longer the only organization with their sight set on Mars. The differences between NASA and the private sector have long been documented, but it can now be extended to potential variances in what the first human colony on Mars would prioritize. My project will reexamine the landing sites NASA recommended in 2010, update them with new data gained in the past decade, and compare to the needs/wants of a private company. The final result will be a determination of which of the NASA chosen sites would be suitable for a private company and a rubric to organize and determine the "strength" of future potential landing sites.

Why does this topic interest you?

This is in an incredibly exciting time for the space industry and the world as we are seeing a renewed public interest and large private investment into space travel. The transformation of the space industry in the past decade has seen questions raised about where NASA's future is in all of this change. I am extremely interested in seeing the different approaches between these newer companies and the veteran government agencies, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and most importantly, how their fundamental differences could potentially help the other in the next big mission: landing boots on Mars.

What are your professional aspirations?

After graduating from MTSU, I plan to attend graduate school to study Mechanical Engineering in order to join the aerospace industry. In the aerospace industry, I hope to help develop new technologies for deep space missions.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

If you're unsure where to start, reach out! The entire research faculty and large group of experienced student researchers here at MTSU were more than happy to help me start on my research path after I simply asked what it would even look like to start! Staying curious and keeping my ears open to what other students are researching has also pointed me in the paths of things I never thought I would be interested in but I now consider my hobbies.

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