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Robotics Institute Seminar, February 13, 1998
Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
412/268-8525 . 412/268-5576 (fax)

This page is provided for historical and archival purposes only. While the seminar dates are correct, we offer no guarantee of informational accuracy or link validity. Contact information for the speakers, hosts and seminar committee are certainly out of date.

The Mars Pathfinder Microrover - A New Era in Planetary Exploration

Henry Stone
Technical Manager
Jet Propulsion Laoratories

Place and Time
Adamson Wing, Baker Hall
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm

On July 4, 1996 NASA's Mars Pathfinder spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere and safely delivered the Pathfinder Lander and the Sojourner Microrover to the surface of Mars. On the second day of surface operations, Sojourner was successfully deployed and began roaming the surface collecting critical scientific data about the geology, morphology, and chemical composition of the Martian surface. Within approximately two weeks Sojourner had accomplished her primary mission and within thirty days the lander had done the same. After completing their primary missions, the lander and rover began performing what would become very successful extended missions. The success of this mission and NASA's new "faster, better, cheaper" approach to designing low cost, highly capable spacecraft marks a new era in planetary exploration in which autonomous mobile vehicles will play an ever increasing role. The demonstrated ability of rovers to travel to specific sites of interest and to explore features closeup has captured the imagination and interest of scientists around the world. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has already made rover's a key component of upcomming Mars missions including the 2001, 2003, and 2005 missions. This presentation will provide highlights of both the mission and the design and control of the Sojourner vehicle. It will include pictures taken by the lander and rover's imaging systems, video clips of mission operations, a video containing eight "rover movies" showing Sojourner navigating its way across the surface, and a 3-D animated playback of data actually collected by Sojourner as it used its laser proximity sensing system to detect and avoid hazards. The talk will conclude with a short question and answer session.

Speaker Biography
Henry Stone received is BSEE, MSEE, and PhD EE from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1981, 1983, and 1986, respectively. His dissertation involved the kinematic modeling, identification, and control of robotic manipulators. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Ca, in 1986 and initially worked on the Telerobotics Testbed Project which developed technologies for controlling multiple manipulators for inflight servicing of Earth-orbiting spacecraft/satellites. In 1991 he began working in the area of mobile robots and became the Cognizant Engineer of the Hazbot Vehicle, a terrestrial robot designed to remotely investigate and cleanup hazardous materials spills. In 1993 he became the Technical Manager of the Mars Pathfinder Microrover's Control and Navigation Subsystem. In October 1997, he was selected to lead the design of the Control and Navigation Subsystem for the Mars Surveyor Program 2001 Rover.

Speaker Appointments
For appointments, please contact the host, Sanjiv Singh at

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