The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | February 25

Robotics Institute Seminar, February 25
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

A Year on Mars: Driving the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit at Gusev Crater

Dr. Chris Leger

Senior Member of Engineering Staff

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory



Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
3:15 pm
3:30 pm



Spirit and Opportunity, NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, landed on Mars in January 2004.  Since then, Spirit has traveled over four kilometers and Opportunity nearly three kilometers while trying to answer scientific questions about the water history of Mars.  Operating the rovers requires a mix of manual sequencing and autonomous behavior while working within the constraints of time, solar power, communication capacity, and the whims of several dozen scientists.  I will describe the challenges and surprises of driving Spirit and using her robotic arm as we explore Gusev Crater and continue our attempt to make the first ascent of a mountain on another world.  I will also touch upon lessons learned and the evolution of our techniques and software as we have adapted to the new and strikingly different terrains encountered by each rover.



Speaker Biography


Chris Leger works as a Rover Planner for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  He attended Carnegie Mellon for undergraduate (ECE'94) and doctoral (RI'99) degrees.  His background is in dynamic simulation, automated synthesis, and three-dimensional machine vision for field and planetary robots.  He worked as a software developer for MER, contributing on-board software for manipulator collision detection, the Descent Image Motion Estimation System (DIMES), and entry, descent, and landing.  Dr. Leger also designed flight hardware for the rovers and developed ground-based software for image processing and rover operations.  Dr. Leger lives in Altadena, California with his dog and three cats and spends his free time rock climbing, surfing, backpacking, and avoiding Los Angeles as much as possible.



Speaker Appointments

Host: Martial Hebert.  For appointments, please contact Virginia Arrington (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.