Skip Navigation


Jeffrey Biesiadecki


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

3471 - Section Staff

Jeffrey Biesiadecki

Principal Member of Technical Staff


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

Professional Experience

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

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).

Research Interests

rover mobility and control software

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Research Tasks
ATHLETE: Rough and Steep Terrain Lunar Surface Mobility


  1. S. Brooks, T. Litwin, J. Biesiadecki, N. Abcouwer, T. Del Sesto, M. McHenry, S. Myint, P. Twu, D. Wai, "Testing Mars 2020 Flight Software and Hardware in the Surface System Development Environment," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2022.
  1. Arturo Rankin, Mark Maimone, Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Nikunj Patel, Dan Levine, Olivier Toupet, "Mars Curiosity Rover Mobility Trends During the First 7 Years," Journal of Field Robotics, 09 January 2021.
  1. Michael McHenry, Neil Abcouwer, Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Johnny Chang, Tyler Del Sesto, Andrew Johnson, Todd Litwin, Mark Maimone, Jack Morrison, Richard Rieber, Olivier Toupet, Philip Twu, "Mars 2020 Autonomous Rover Navigation," Proceedings of the 43rd AAS Rocky Mountain Section guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, Breckenridge, Colorado, 30 January 2020.
  1. Mark Maimone, Scott Maxwell, Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Stirling Algermissen, "RP-check: An Architecture for Spaceflight Command Sequence Validation," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2018.
  1. J. Townsend, J. Biesiadecki, C. Collins, "ATHLETE Mobility Performance with Active Terrain Compliance," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Monatana, March 2010, #1530, 06 October 2010.
  1. Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Robert Liebersbach, Mark Maimone, "Mars Exploration Rover Mobility and IDD Downlink Analysis Tools," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Automation for Space (i-SAIRAS) Proceedings, Los Angeles, CA, 27 February 2008.
  2. Won S. Kim, Jeffrey J. Biesiadecki, and Khaled S. Ali, "Visual Target Tracking on the Mars Exploration Rovers," 9th Int. Symp. on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), 01 February 2008.
  1. K. Ali, C. Vanelli, J. Biesiadecki, M. Maimone, Y. Cheng, A. M. SanMartin, J. Alexander, "Attitude and Position Estimation on the Mars Exploration Rovers," 2005 IEEE Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (Kona, Hawaii), 01 October 2005.
  1. Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Mark W. Maimone, and Jack Morrison., "The Athena SDM Rover: A Testbed for Mars Rover Mobility," June 2001 iSAIRAS conference proceedings, Montreal, Canada., 01 June 2001.
  1. J. Biesiadecki, D. Henriquez, and A. Jain, "A Reusable, Real-Time Spacecraft Dynamics Simulator," 6th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, (Irvine, CA), 01 October 1997.
  2. J. Biesiadecki, A. Jain, and M.L. James, "Advanced Simulation Environment for Autonomous Spacecraft," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space i-SAIRAS'97, (Tokyo, Japan), 01 July 1997.
  1. J. Biesiadecki and A. Jain, "A Reconfigurable Testbed Environment for Spacecraft Autonomy," Simulators for European Space Programmes, 4th Workshop, (Noordwijk, The Netherlands), ESTEC, 01 October 1996.
  1. R. Skeel and J. Biesiadecki, "Symplectic Integration with Variable Stepsize," Annals of Numerical Mathematics 1, 191-198, 01 January 1994.
  1. J. Biesiadecki and R. Skeel, "Dangers of Multiple Time Step Methods," Journal of Computational Physics, Vol. 109, 318-329, 01 January 1993.
  1. R. Skeel, J. Biesiadecki, and D. Okunbor, "Symplectic Integration for Macromolecular Dynamics," Proceedings of the International Conference Computation of Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems, World Scientific Publishing Co., 01 January 1992.