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Jeffrey Biesiadecki's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 198-219
4800 Oak Grove Drive
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Member of:
Robotic Mobility Group
Jeffrey Biesiadecki
Member of Technical Staff
(Short description>>)

Jeffrey Biesiadecki has been a software engineer at NASAs Jet Propusion Laboratory since 1993, after completing his Masters degree in Computer Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he designed and implemented the core motor control, non-autonomous mobility, and rover "standup" deployment flight software for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER). He is also one of the rover drivers for the Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity", responsible for command sequences that tell the rover where to drive and how to operate its robotic arm on the surface of Mars.

In addition to his continued work on the MER rovers, he is designing and implementing motor control, mobility, and manipulation flight software for the Rough and Steep Lunar Surface Mobility research task, also known as ATHLETE.

Prior to working on flight software for robotic vehicles, Jeffrey worked on reusable spacecraft simulation software (DARTS/Dshell), used to implement and validate attitude control flight software. And prior to that, Jeffrey hired into JPL working on command translation ground software for JPLs Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS) that is used by all JPL flight missions.

He received both Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He focussed on numerical analysis and applied mathematics, and was a software developer for the Department of Geology. Interestingly, software he contributed to for modeling geochemical reactions is used by some MER scientists for interpreting science results from the Mars Exploration Rovers.

  • December 1992 MS Computer Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Grade Point Average: 5.0/5.0
    Title of thesis: Dangers of Using Multiple Time Step Algorithms for Molecular Dynamics Simulations
  • December 1989 BS Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Grade Point Average: 4.6/5.0

Section 347 (Robotic Software Systems); Januaray 2005 through present

Flight software design, development, test, and integration for the All Terrain Hex Legged Explorer (ATHLETE) lunar robot. Areas of development include motor control, mobility, command and sequencing.

Section 348 (Robotic Vehicles Group); June 2000 through present

Flight software design, development, test, and integration for Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project - in the areas of motor control device drivers and fault protection, mobility manager software (command and telemetry interfaces, and the main loop for autonomous navigation interfacing software that moves the vehicle and acquires images with Mark Maimones stereo image processing and hazard avoidance software), driving primitives for performing turns and arcs, position estimation based on wheel odometry, rover suspension one-time deployment (standup) software, device driver for power subsystem, and hardware register accessor functions for the cameras and camera interface electronics. Testing performed in clean rooms, gymnasium-sized indoor sandbox, outdoor sandboxes at JPL, and field test at Edwards Air Force Base. Setup the Makefiles, software configuration management scripts, and defined procedures for the other flight software developers to follow to checkout, build, and release their portions of the flight software.

Rover Planner for MER operations, writing sequences to drive the rover and manipulate its robotic arm. Developed and tested the sequences for digging trenches on Mars, as well as mobility checkout (first time activity in flight) sequences for Spirit and Opportunity. Developed sequence macros to help write rover drive sequences. Developed ground software to assist the analysis of mobility activity and mechanism health.

Section 345 (Robotic Vehicles Group); April 1998 through June 2000

Flight software design and development, and avionics integration and test, for the Athena-Rover Software Development Model, a prototype Mars Sample Return rover. Worked closely with the electronics developers to test and debug the hardware (flight computer, motor control, camera interface, and power switching boards, as well as Active Pixel Sensor based cameras) and device driver software. Developed specific hardware diagnostic software as needed, including specialized PROMs for debugging the CPU board, and device drivers and UNIX-based graphical user interfaces for debugging cameras and testing imaging sensors. Developed image acquisition flight software for Athena-Rover. Developed the command processing flight and ground software for Athena-Rover and Muses-CN nanorover; this ground software was also used for the Marie Curie 01 rover. Developed a rover simulator for the Muses-CN nanorover project to facilitate test and development of its flight software, using the Dshell simulation environment.

Section 345 (Guidance & Control Software); December 1995 through April 1998

Software engineer developing real-time spacecraft simulation tools, used for development and test of attitude control flight software and testing of command sequences during mission operations. Redesigned and reimplemented Dshell spacecraft dynamics simulator in C++, used to model actuator and sensor devices on a spacecraft. Designed and implemented libSim data flow modeling tool used by NM-DS1. Both tools have extensive Tcl interfaces and documentation. Development done on UNIX workstations and software used on both UNIX and VxWorks platforms. Wrote software configuration management system for our group in Perl, as a layer on top of CVS/RCS. Also used ControlShell and several message passing libraries.

Section 391 (Mission Operations); February 1993 through December 1995

Software engineer in Operations Engineering Laboratory. Design, develop, and maintain code for the AMMOS Command (CMD) subsystem, used by all of JPLs current deep space missions to send commands through the DSN to spacecraft. CDE for the AMMOS Command Translation Subsystem (CTS) which translates text command mnemonics to the binary representations sent to the spacecraft. This code is used by JPLs Sequence/Mission Planning functional area as well as AMMOS Command subsystem. Development done on UNIX workstations in ANSI C, C++, Perl, and Motif.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of Geology, Laboratory for Supercomputing in Hydrogeology; September 1988 through February 1993

Full time academic professional Research Programmer since January 1990. Developed software in C and Fortran for UNIX workstations and supercomputers to model groundwater flow. Also 3D graphics programming on Silicon Graphics workstations and experience using the X Window System (Motif).

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects:
2003 - Mars Exploration Rover

Research Tasks:
ATHLETE: Rough and Steep Terrain Lunar Surface Mobility

rover mobility and control software

  • SPOT and MER team awards, 2005 (for work extracting Opportunity from Purgatory Dune)
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 2004 (for MER flight software)
  • Mars Exploration Rover Project Certificate of Recognition, 2003 (for design and implementation of motor control, mobility, standup, power, and high-rate history collection flight software)
  • JPL Notable Organizational Value-Added (NOVA) Award, 1998
  • University of Illinois Deans list, 1986-89
  • Curriculum honors at UIUC graduation: with highest distinction, 1989
  • James N. Snyder and John R. Pasta Awards for Academic Achievement, given to the outstanding sophomore/junior, respectively, in Math/Computer Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1988-89

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