Dr. Igor Mitrofanov of Russia's Institute for Space Research (IKI) in Moscow is the principal investigator of the high-energy neutron detector on the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission. Mitrofanov was responsible for the development of the instrument, including its manufacturing, testing, verification and integration into the Odyssey system, and is responsible for the instrument's operation, observations, data processing, analysis and archiving.
Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and educated in the former Soviet Union, Mitrofanov attended a government school for gifted students with interests in higher math and physics. He studied physics at Leningrad University, focusing on quantum mechanics. After graduation from the university in 1972, he studied astrophysics at the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in Leningrad. In 1981, he began work at Moscow's Space Research Institute (IKI) where he has remained for 20 years. Focusing on experimental high-energy astronomy, Mitrofanov participated on a Soviet-French gamma-ray spectroscopy experiment on the Soviet Phobos mission to Mars in 1988-89, and successfully detected the gamma-ray albedo of Mars by with the instrument in February 1989. He also served as the principal investigator of a Russian-U.S. gamma-ray spectroscopy experiment on Russia's Mars '96 mission.
Mitrofanov describes his experience working with American colleagues on Mars Odyssey: "I obtained the experience to work professionally side by side with Americans, to resolve problems together, to face common difficulties, to celebrate joint successes. I have observed quite different styles of behavior of Russians and Americans in many practical situations, but I was very pleased to discover that they have very similar approaches to the most basic values."