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Bob Balaram is a Principal Member of Staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Computer & Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985 where his doctoral thesis addressed the control of highly non-linear systems. He has been at JPL ever since and works in the area of Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL), Modeling & Simulation, Telerobotics Technology, and Mobility Concept Development.
Bob is the originator of the concept that became the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. He served as its Chief Engineer during its development, test and operations. Bob has also served as the Initiative Lead for a Strategic Research and Technology Development effort to develop science helicopters on Mars as a follow-up to the success of Ingenuity.
Previously Bob researched precision landing methods for Mars as well as advanced simulation techniques for planetary EDL. He led the team that developed a high-fidelity EDL simulator that has been adopted for use by the Curiosity and Perseverance missions. He is also the co-developer of a simulator used for planetary rover simulation. Bob has led design teams for developing Mars aerobot (aerial robot) perception systems, a deep-diving Venus balloon gondola concept, and balloon-carried imaging sondes for deployment at Venus. He was also a co-developer of the Rocky-7 rover platform ' a prototype and precursor to the new generation of rovers such as those on the MER mission.
Ph.D Computer & Systems Engineering. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1985.
Thesis: Suboptimal Control of Nonlinear Systems
M.S. Computer & Systems Engineering. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1982.
Thesis: Analysis of Boiling Water Nuclear Reactor Stability Margins
B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering. Indian Institute of Technology, 1980.