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Frank Hartman


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S T1719-102

Pasadena, CA 91101

Member of:

3472 - Robotic Systems Staff

Frank Hartman

Mars 2020 Robotic Operations Subsystem Lead


After growing up in New Jersey, Frank received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture from The University of the Arts in 1992 and moved to the Los Angeles area shortly thereafter to pursue a career in computer animation.

He began working at JPL in 1994 as a Video Engineer in the Digital Image Animation Lab where he often made hundreds of copies of VHS video tapes and then took them to the FedEx.

In 1996 Frank was fortunate to begin working with Brian Cooper in the field of terrain visualization in support of Brians Rover Control Workstation software which was used to command the Sojourner micro-rover.

Following this experience Frank returned to school and received his M.S. Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford University. Returning to JPL in 2000, Frank once again began working with Brian Cooper, this time on the team that was building RSVP, the Robot Sequencing and Visualization Program and was selected as one of the original eight MER rover drivers as a result of this work. Frank continued to drive the Opportunity rover for seven years until he transitioned the MSL rover project, eventually becoming both Lead Rover Driver and Tactical Mission Lead on that mission.

Currently, Frank is working as the Robotic Operations Subsystem Lead for the M2020 rover mission. In this position Frank is participating in the systems engineering effort geared to achieving the productivity enhancements needed in the area of robotic operations by the M2020 mission in order to meet its challenging mission objectives.


M.S. Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering Stanford University
B.F.A. Sculpture Philadelphia College of Art

Professional Experience

Video Subsystem Engineer DIAL
Mars Pathfinder Terrain Visualization
Mars Exploration Rover Driver
Mars Science Laboratory Lead Rover Driver
M2020 Robotic Operations Subsystem Lead

Research Interests

Visualization for Robotic Vehicle Commanding
In-situ Robotic Operations
Augmented and Virtual Reality for Robotic Operations


  1. V. Verma, F. Hartman, A. Rankin, M. Maimone, T. Del Sesto, O. Toupet, E. Graser, S. Myint, K. Davis, D. Klein, J. Koch, S. Brooks, P. Bailey , H. Justice, M. Dolci, H. Ono, "First 210 solar days of Mars Perseverance Robotic Operations - Mobility, Robotics Arm, Sampling, and Helicopter," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 05 March 2022.
  1. F. Hartman B. Cooper S. Maxwell J. Wright J. Yen, "A Commanding and Visualization Software Suite for Controlling the Mars Rovers and Other Planetary Robots," Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 4-12, 01 January 2010.
  1. F. Hartman, B. Cooper, S. Maxwell, J. Wright, J. Yen, "Immersive Visualization for Navigation and Control of the Mars Exploration Rovers," Proc. SpaceOps 2004, Montreal, Canada, 01 January 2004.