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Aaron Parness


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 82-105
Pasadena, CA 91109





Dr. Aaron Parness


Dr. Parness received two Bachelor of Science degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from Stanford University. Currently, he performs research on the attachment interfaces between robotic systems and their surrounding environment, working primarily on climbing robots and robotic grippers. An expert in novel methods of prototype manufacturing, Dr. Parness has experience in microfabrication, polymer prototyping, and traditional machining (both manual and CNC). He has also worked on mechanical part design and mechatronic systems during his career.


2010 PhD Mech. Eng. Stanford University
2006 MS Mech. Eng. Stanford University
2004 BS Mech. Eng. MIT
2004 BS Creative Writing (Lit. minor) MIT
2000 Illinois Math and Science Academy

2006 Tsinghua University, China
2003 Oxford University, England

Professional Experience

Dr. Parness is the principal investigator on several research projects at JPL focused on extreme terrain mobility, led the gripper development of the Asteroid Redirect Mission, works in the formulation of Discovery and New Frontiers Mission Proposals, and leads innovation and technology initiatives for the Office of the Chief Technologist and the Space Technology Program.

Research Interests

Dr. Parnesss current research interests include anchoring systems for Near Earth Objects, where there is virtually no gravity, climbing robots for natural terrain including cliff faces and cave ceilings, micro ground vehicles (<100 grams) with dynamic mobility, and new methods of robotic manipulation that do not rely on traditional friction-based force-closure.

Publications available here:


  1. I. Nesnas, L. Kerber, G. Sellar, T. Balint, B. Denevi, A. Parness, R. Kornfeld, M. Smith, P. McGarey, T. Brown, E. Sunada, K. Gonter, B. Hockman, P. Hayne, T. Horvath, J. Hopkins, A. Johnson, R. Wagner, Y. Cheng, A. Curtis, K. Zacny, M. Paton, K. Sherrill, "Moon Diver: Exploring a pit's exposed strata to understand lunar volcanism," Acta Astronautica, Volume 211, pp. 163-176, 28 May 2023.
  1. K. Uckert, A. Parness, N. Chanover, E. Eshelman, N. Abcouwer, J. Nash, R. Detry, C. Fuller, D. Voelz, R. Hull, D. Flannery, R. Bhartia, K. Manatt, W. Abbey, and P. Boston, "Investigating Habitability with an Integrated Rock-Climbing Robot and Astrobiology Instrument Suite," Astrobiology, vol. 6, pp. 48-55, 14 December 2020.
  1. S. Morad, J. Nash, S. Higa, R. Smith, A. Parness, K. Barnard, "Improving Visual Feature Extraction in Glacial Environments," IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 5, pp. 385-390, 27 August 2019.
  1. A. Parness, N. Abcouwer, C. Fuller, N. Wiltsie, J. Nash, and B. Kennedy, "LEMUR 3: A Limbed Climbing Robot for Extreme Terrain Mobility in Space," 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 5467-5473, 29 May 2017.
  2. A Parness, "List of Publications," 01 January 2017.
  1. C. Parcheta, C. Pavlov, N. Wiltsie, K. Carpenter, J. Nash, A. Parness, K. Mitchell, "A Robotic Approach to Mapping Post-Eruptive Volcanic Fissure Conduits," Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, vol. 320, pp. 19-28, 15 June 2016.
  1. C. Parcheta, J. Nash, A. Parness, K. Mitchell, and C. Pavlov, "Narrow Vertical Caves: Mapping Volcanic Fissure Geometries," 2nd International Planetary Caves Conference, vol. 1883, p. 9010, 01 October 2015.
  2. C. Parcheta, A. Parness, J. Nash, N. Wiltsie, K. Carpenter, and K. Mitchell, "Comparing Vent Surface Geometry with its Subsurface Structure," 46th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, vol. 1832, p. 1649, 01 January 2015.