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Mars Pathfinder Team Members




What I did on Mars Pathfinder:

I became a member of the Mars Pathfinder Project during its development phase in June 1993 as the Uplink Engineer. My responsibilities were to develop a streamlined uplink operational concept for how the Flight Team will plan, generate, validate, and radiate sequences and commands for commanding the spacecraft, lander, and the Rover. I also developed and maintained the cruise mission plan which schedules how and when the various activities are to occur on the spacecraft and the staffing support required.

During the operational phase (October 1996 to August 1997) of the Mars Pathfinder Project I was one of several Flight Engineers. My primary responsibilities were to generate the final sequences and real time commands during the 7 month cruise period. I also generated the final sequence of events, Deep Space Network (DSN) keyword files, and the space flight operations schedule. These products were used to coordinate, monitor, and inform all members of the flight team of the daily activities.

My Career Journey:

My first engineering job after graduating from college (June 1963) was at the Martin Marietta Aerospace Corporation in Denver, Colorado where I did the following for eight years: - Mechanical and propulsion testing of the Titan II & III missiles on Test Stand D3. - Conducted launch, orbit trajectory and mission design analyses on Titan IIIs and the NASA Skylab Program with Saturn IV and V launch vehicles. - conducted interplanetary trajectory and orbital analysis on the Viking Mars Mission.

I came to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in June 1971 to become a member of the Viking Flight Team where we placed two orbiters around Mars and then two landers on the surface. I generated Mars orbit geometry data for the orbiter science team to plan their observations and developed cruise activity sequences for both spacecraft during the cruise and prime orbital mission phases.

From 1977 to 1982 I generated sequences for one of two Voyager spacecraft, and conducted special studies and established mission design guidelines and constraints for development of the mission profile and sequences for the Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune encounter phases.

As a member of the Mariner Mark II Mission Design Team, I conducted analyses and defined future JPL planetary space flight missions that could be developed and operated between 1990 thru the year 2010.

From 1983 to 1987, I was on a special JPL staff (eventually as the mission design manager) assigned to the Strategic Defense Initiative Program (Star Wars Program) where we: - Analyzed and developed top level requirements for the design and implementation for protection against incoming nuclear missiles. - Managed the development and demonstration of a test article to satisfy the acquisition, tracking, and pointing requirements.

For the next six years, I was on the Magellan Flight Project to map the Venus planet where I held the following positions: - Deputy chief of sequence design team. - Chief of mission planning team. - Deputy manager of the operations planning and analysis office.

My Current Job:

I am the Deputy Manager of the System Engineering and Coordination Element on the Cassini Flight Project. The goals of the Cassini Mission are to perform scientific and engineering observations of Saturn, its moons, atmosphere, and rings in 2004, and to deliver a probe into the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Goals / Education:

I always wanted to do something in space or design aircraft while watching the many military and commercial aircraft fly over as I drove the tractors on our farm in Colorado. So I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder where I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Aerospace Engineering Department.

Personal Information:

I was born and raised on our 80 acre family truck garden farm in Brighton, Colorado which my grandparents and parents owned and operated since 1901.

I have lived in a community called Altadena with my wife Terri since our move from Colorado to California. I have a daughter, Stephanie, who is a Registered Nurse specializing in emergency and intensive care, and a son, Brian, who also graduated from the University of Colorado and is a member of the State Farm Insurance Company National Disaster Team.





Keith Novak

Mission Operations Thermal Control Lead Engineer

Keith Novak was born in Oxford, Ohio in 1960 to a young naval officer and his wife, a Spanish professor. Keith (the Navy brat) moved around quite a bit as a child, spending some time in exotic places such as Kenitra, Morocco, but mostly living on Navy bases up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. (from Groton, Connecticut to Jacksonville, Florida and almost every state in between).

Keith graduated cum laude from Duke University, in Durham NC, with a B.S. in Engineering in 1982. He then headed west to Phoenix, Arizona for graduate training in Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State University, where he received a M.S. degree in 1985. The images of the Mars Pathfinder landing site remind Keith of the terrain outside Phoenix, minus of course, the Saguaro cacti and creosote bushes.

Keith worked for 6 years at Motorola, Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ doing thermal design of electronics boxes. In fact, while at Motorola, Keith helped design the Deep Space Transponder, which is the receiver on the Mars Pathfinder lander.

In 1991, Keith contemplated a move from Arizona to California, at just about the time when the aerospace industry in Southern California hit rock bottom (layoffs, hiring freezes, etc.). As luck would have it, he had one interview (at JPL), one offer (from JPL) and happily accepted the job as a thermal design engineer on the Cassini project (NASA's mission to Saturn). He worked 4 years on Cassini and has worked the last 2 years on Mars Pathfinder.

As a member of the Mars Pathfinder thermal control team, Keith contributed in the design, analysis and testing of thermal aspects of the spacecraft. In the last year of the project, Keith served as the thermal lead on the Mission Operations Team.

Keith lives with his wife, Germaine, and two children in South Pasadena, CA. Keith enjoys music, sailing, bike riding, movies, travel and playing with his kids.




Timothy J. Parker

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 183-501

4800 Oak Grove Dr.

Pasadena, CA 91109

Ph.# (818) 354-2451








Ph.D., Geology: University of Southern California, Los Angeles: Dissertation title: Martian Paleolakes and Oceans. NASA Research Assistantship Support: Martian Surface and Atmosphere Through Time (MSATT): Proposal title: Basin Sediment Transport on Mars (1991-1993). Mars Geologic Mapping 1:500K Program: Proposal title: Geologic Mapping of Argyre Planitia (1993-1994).

M. S. Degree, Geology: California State University, Los Angeles

B. S. Degree, Geology: California State University, Long Beach

State of California Junior College Teaching Credential.

Professional Experience:



Past and present JPL projects:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA 91109 Geologist, Science Staff: Section 3236.

Mars Global Surveyor Project: MOC image targeting during Science Phasing Orbits

Mars Pathfinder Project: Landing Site Geology.

Mars Geologic Mapping Program (MGM) Principal Investigator: Geologic Mapping of Argyre Planitia, Mars.

Venus Data Analysis Program (VDAP)/Venus Geologic Mapping Program (VMAP) Principal Investigator: Origin of Venusian Channels.

Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter Assistant Experiment Representative.

Magellan Project Scientist Assistant (1990-1993).

CRAF Science Coordinator for Penetrator impact probe (from 1988-1990).

MIPL: Software testing for Galileo and Magellan; Image analyst for Voyager.

Science Support, NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program.




Linda S. Robeck

Linda Sophie Robeck (a.k.a. Mrs. Donald Fuhrman) joined JPL in July, 1987, after completing a Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering at MIT and a Master's in the same subject at Stanford University. Her first three years at JPL were spent working in the Avionic Systems and Tcehnology Division (Division 34) on the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystems of the Galileo, Cassini, and CRAF spacecraft, and several small Earth Observation instruments. (Galileo is now in orbit around Jupiter, and Cassini is on its way to Saturn). In late 1990, Linda moved to the Mechanical Systems Engineering and Research Division (Division 35) to oversee JPL's Metric Conversion effort. In recent years, her assignments have included mechanical support for Cassini, MISR (Multi-Angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer), and Mars Pathfinder, most notably as Deputy ATLO Mechanical Engineer in charge of the assembly of the Mars Pathfinder lander, which required a temporary assignment (four months) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Linda recently worked on the Critical Dynamics in Microgravity (DYNAMX) experiment, a superfluid Helium investigation intended for spaceflight in the early 2000's. Linda has recently been assigned a managerial role as Group Supervisor of the Precision Motion Control Systems Group; the group specializes in the sensors used by robotic spacecraft to navigate and control cameras and other moving parts.

Outside of work, Linda supports the JPL Speaker's Bureau with an emphasis on providing a professional female role model for the youth of the community. She supports environmental conservation by bicycle commuting, gardening, and recycling. Her hobbies also include photography (one of her Mars Pathfinder photos was published in Aviation Week and Space Technology) and reading.

Linda was born (in 1964) in Vero Beach, Florida (the spring training home of the Dodgers!) and moved to the Boston area when she was a few months old. She stayed in the Boston area until after finishing her Bachelor's degree in 1986, when she moved to California to attend Stanford for Graduate school.




Susan M. Roberts

Mars Pathfinder Project Information Management Specialist and Project Librarian

I started working on the Mars Pathfinder Project beginning in 1994 when it was still named MESUR (Mars Environmental Survey). I designed and maintained Action Item databases but the work evolved to defining and setting up the MPF Project Library. Working with two software engineers, Jesse Wright and Jeff Saenz, we designed and implemented one of the first electronic, web-based libraries at JPL. JPL's Develop New Products (DNP) Knowledge Management (KM) Re-engineering team adopted this library as a prototype for a Lab-designed and supported electronic library (elib). The result was an electronic library that is now used by more than 20 projects at JPL. This effort contributed to a significant reduction in the time required for setting up a new project library, i.e., from several months to approximately one week. I spent more than a year working half-time with the DNP KM team defining, developing, implementing, and providing training for these libraries.

Other tasks involved in project information management were the maintenance and insurance that the project was following NASA, JPL and Caltech requirements regarding Project documentation. I also wrote and designed the first MPF Fact Sheet and maintained several databases. My support of the project continued until the end of funding in September of 1998. My final tasks included assisting with the shut down and final archival of Mars Pathfinder by databasing and forwarding almost 100 storage boxes of MPF videotapes, documents, personnel memos and chronological files, photos,posters, outreach materials, papers and presentations, and drawings to the JPL Archives. After being logged in, the information is maintained by the Archives and serves as a research source for future projects. The final closure of the MPF electronic Library requires that continued work with the DNP KM team to complete the documentation cycle of an electronic library by including the more than 1000 electronic document files in a CD-ROM. This final archive will become the JPL standard for archival of electronic project libraries.

Since the completion of my work on MPF, I've become responsible for managing the information technology and collaborative environment of two innovative JPL projects - the Mission Data System (MDS) which is comprised of adaptable, multimission software that is used by mission personnel to operate a spacecraft and the X2000 Future Deliveries project which provides the latest technology to future projects in the areas of avionics, mechanical, flight system engineering, propulsion, mission assurance, and integration and test. I work with the members of these projects evaluating and implementing the best tools available for use within their collaborative environment as well as defining and maintaining their electronic libraries and other information resources.

My personal interests include global travel, amateur geology, the history of the American West, hiking, snorkeling, and reading. I celebrate 10 years of working at JPL in February of 1999. I live in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains about 5 miles froms JPL in the small community of Montrose. My three sons are grown and spread across the country from the Midwest to North Carolina.


Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of La Verne, 1994.

Certificate of Technical Communications, Golden West College, 1990.

Bachelor of Arts (BA), Communications and Journalism, University of Nebraska, Omaha, 1984.




Allen R. Sirota

Chief Systems Engineer and Assembly, Integration, and Test Manager for the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover

Role on Pathfinder Project:

While working on the Pathfinder Sojourner Rover Project I performed several roles. During the early design phase I was responsible for the design and implementation of the system cabling harness which connected all the subassemblies and components together electrically. I then managed the rover assembly and integration process, as well as conducting the test program which included functional and performance testing as well as environmental qualification and field testing. I participated in the launch preparations at the Kennedy Space Center and, in my final role on the project, served on the Pathfinder Mission Operations team processing and interpreting the telemetry data and images from the Rover as it was downlinked from the Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars.

Past Experience:

While at JPL, I have worked on several flight and research projects. I have been technical manager for three previous flight projects which have included the Three Axis Acoustic Levitator (3AAL) which researched the properties of fluids in microgravity, the Remote Manipulator System Force-Torque Sensor (RMS-FTS) which allowed astronauts to observe the forces acting upon the shuttle arm during its operation, and the Lambda-Point Experiment (LPE) which studied the transition of liquid helium to a superfluid state while in space. All three experiments flew aboard the shuttle Columbia between 1986 and 1993. In addition to my flight experience, I have worked on several robotic research projects at JPL including the development of several of the early rover prototypes. Before coming to JPL in 1983, I worked in the aerospace industry for many years, with my most notable contribution being the development of the first digital Antiskid/Autobraking system which was developed for Boeing airliners and which is still in service today.

Personal Information:

I was born in New York City, but moved to Los Angeles when my father, also an aerospace engineer, got a job at North American Aviation (which soon became Rockwell, and now Boeing) working on the X-15 and Apollo programs. I was enthralled with space travel when growing up and followed my father into aerospace engineering. I graduated UCLA with a degree in electrical engineering. I currently live in Northridge, California, with my wife Susie and my two children, Heather and Mark.

Future Plans:

I am currently the Chief Engineer of the MUSES-CN Rover project. This rover, sometimes referred to as the 'nano-rover', is much smaller than Sojourner and will fly aboard a Japanese spacecraft and will land and operate on an asteroid around the year 2003. Beyond that, I would like to continue to develop and send rovers to various destinations in the solar system for as long as I can.




Robert R. Smith

Mars Pathfinder Flight Control Team Lead

Rob was born and raised on a grape farm in California's central valley in the town of Madera. In 1976, he got his first amateur radio license at age 13. When he was 17 years old, he attended a National Science Foundation summer program in Florida. When he was 18 and 19 he spent his summers in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador working with their ministry's of health giving immunizations and as the group's radio operator for medical communications.

He graduated with a BS degree in Chemistry from Northland College, a small private 4-year college in the northern part of Wisconsin. At college he worked in the physics lab as senior lab instructor and in he is spare time, he learned to ski and ice fish. Before coming to JPL, Rob worked as a chemist at a tire manufacturing plant, environmental chemist, and a research chemical engineer at a facility studying semiconductor crystal growth. Rob came to JPL in 1989 and since then he has worked in Mission Operations on Magellan, Voyager, Mars Global Surveyor, and Pathfinder.

Rob was born in 1962 and enjoys hang gliding and amateur radio.




Kathleen Spellman

Experiment Operations Manager

Kathleen Spellman is the Experiment Operations Manager for the Mars Pathfinder Mission. During spacecraft operations, she coordinated the design and development of each Martian day's science activities and was responsible for the management of over 100 participating scientists from around the world. Prior to her role on the science team, Kathleen worked as the uplink system engineer where she designed and implemented the Mars Pathfinder communication system used to operate and control the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft and rover vehicle.

Kathleen joined JPL in 1989. She has worked on several space projects including the Cassini Mission to Saturn, the joint US/French Topex Poseidon Project, currently studying earth's oceans, and the Mars Observer Project. Previously, she conducted astronomical research for Caltech at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center. Kathleen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Astronomy from the University of Southern California.

Kathleen volunteers for the JPL Speakers Bureau and as a Tour Guide. Her personal interests include hiking, travel, gardening, cooking, reading and looking after her home in altadena which is residence to her menagerie of bunnies & cats.




Robin M. Vaughan Biography November 26, 1997


Robin M. Vaughan is currently a senior member of engineering staff in the Navigation and Flight Mechanics Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena,California. She has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana ('81) and master's and Phd degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts ('83 and '87). She joined JPL in 1987, working with the optical systems analysis group. She worked on optical navigation operations for the Voyager 2 Neptune encounter in 1989 and the Galileo encounter with the asteroid Gaspra in 1991. She spent the next 3 years working on orbit determination analysis and optical navigation issues for the Cassini mission to Saturn. Robin joined the navigation team for the Mars Pathfinder mission in late 1994 and continued as part of the team through its successful landing on Mars on July 4, 1997. Robin has worked part-time on various other tasks over the years, including studies for missions to Pluto and development of navigation software tools. She is currently the navigation system engineer for Advanced Deep Space System Development Program (ADSSDP)/X2000 working on the design of navigation systems for future interplanetary missions such as a Europa orbiter, comet landing and sample return, and Mars sample return.

Robin is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); she has been an officer of the San Gabriel Valley Section for many years and is the current treasurer.

Robin was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. Her hobbies include reading (mostly science fiction), various forms of needlework and other arts and crafts, baking, and playing the piano.




John B. Wellman

Mars Pathfinder Science and Instruments Manager

Mars Pathfinder Experiment Operations Team Chief

I have been a Mars explorer from the beginning of my career at JPL, starting with the Viking Mission to Mars, working initially on the design of the organic detection experiment on the lander and subsequently as a member of the Orbiter Imaging Science Team.

During the Mars Pathfinder development phase, I managed the design, implementation, test and integration of the Mars Pathfinder science payload, including a solid-state stereoscopic camera with multispectral capability, an alpha proton X-ray spectrometer, for analysis of the elemental composition of Mars’ soil and rocks, and meteorology experiment that monitors the local weather at the landing site.

During mission operations, I coordinated the efforts of more than one hundred scientists and engineers from institutions spanning the globe as they analyzed the mission data, planned scientific observations with Pathfinder’s instruments and conducted the operations of the rover, Sojourner, on the planet’s surface.

I received a BS and MS in Physics at Purdue University, and later earned an ME in Engineering Management at UCLA. When not exploring Mars, I enjoy performing as a musician with several jazz groups and backpacking in the mountains.




Charles R. Weisbin

Charles R. Weisbin is JPL Program Manager for Robotics and Mars Exploration Technology. Previously, he was Section Manager for Robotic Systems and Advanced Computer Technology. Prior to this, he was the director of the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Program for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as director for their Center for Engineering Systems Advanced Research.

Dr. Weisbin was Associate Professor of Computer Science, teaching artificial intelligence at the University of Tennessee. He has served as associate editor for IEEE Expert, and as member of the editorial board of IEEE Robotics and the International Journal of Applied Intelligence. He has also served as proposal referee for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Dr. Weisbin is listed in Who's Who in Technology Today, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, Who's Who in America as well as Who's Who in the World. He was program chairman for the IEEE Second International Conference on Artificial Intelligence Applications. Dr. Weisbin has served as member of the Joint Technology Panel on Robotics (a group advising the military services of all branches regarding technology status and needs in robotics) and as co-chairman of the Robotics and Telepresence Subcommittee of the Space Technology Interdependency Group (STIG). He is a recipient of the 1998 Thomas O Paine Award for Advancement of Human Exploration to Mars and a IEEE Computer Society Golden Core Member award.

He was the co-chairman of the NASA Telerobotics Intercenter Working Group for seven years and recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and a consultant to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory robotics research program.




Gordon E. Wood

Mission Communications Specialist

Gordon E. Wood is a mission communications specialist in the Telecommunications Science and Engineering Division at JPL. He was the Chief Engineer for Mission Communications for the Mars Pathfinder Project. His 31 years of experience with the design, implementation and operation of deep space communications systems contributed significantly to the successful Pathfinder mission.



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