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Joseph Carsten


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

347R - Robot Ops and V&V

Joseph Carsten

Member of Technical Staff


Joseph Carsten graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 with a M.S. in Robotics. While there, he developed a three-dimensional path planning algorithm as well as an obstacle detection scheme based on LIDAR. Since then he has been a member of the JPL technical staff. At JPL, he has been involved in field test campaigns, and worked on stereo vision, obstacle detection, and path planning software. He has also done flight software development, as well as mission operations work for the Mars Exploration Rover and Phoenix Lander projects.


M.S. in Robotics (2005) from Carnegie Mellon University
Thesis: The Field D* Algorithm for Efficient Path Replanning in Three Dimensions
Research Advisor: Tony Stentz

B.S. in Engineering, Electrical Specialty (2002) from Colorado School of Mines (with Highest Honors)
Minor: Computer Science
Senior Design Project: Design and implementation of a small mobile robot for a K-12 outreach program.

Professional Experience

Software Engineer
Member of the MER operations mobility/IDD downlink analysis team. In training for rover planner duties (10/06 to present).

Member of the Phoenix Lander mission operations team. Performed downlink analysis, tactical sequence development, and strategic testing activities (4/08 to 10/08).

Produced a stereo vision and obstacle detection package for the Navys SPAWAR program (1/06 to 4/08).

Developed software to collect and verify sensor data from the MSL terminal descent sensor test bed. Assisted in the creation of operational procedures and field testing(1/06 to 12/06).

Integrated the D* path planning algorithm into the MER flight software (7/05 to 6/07).

Research Interests

Path Planning, Obstacle Detection, Mobile Robots, Robotic Intelligence

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects
Phoenix Robotic Arm (RA)


  1. A. Rankin, A. Holloway, J. Carsten, M. Maimone, "Integration of an Arm Kinematics Hot Patch Onboard the Curiosity Rover," 2021 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2021.
  1. J. Carsten, A. Rankin, D. Ferguson, T. Stentz, "Global Planning on the Mars Exploration Rovers: Software Integration and Surface Testing," Journal of Field Robotics, Volume 26, Issue 4, 337-357, 01 April 2009.
  2. R. Bonitz, L. Shiraishi, M. Robinson, J. Carsten, R. Volpe, A. Trebi-Ollennu, R. Arvidson, P. Chu, J. Wilson, K. Davis, "The Phoenix Mars Lander Robotic Arm," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference (CDROM), 2.0104, 07 March 2009.
  1. J. Carsten, A. Rankin, D. Ferguson, A. Stentz, "Global Path Planning on Board the Mars Exploration Rovers," Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2007.
  1. J. Carsten, D. Ferguson, A. Stentz, "3D Field D*: Improved Path Planning and Replanning in Three Dimensions," Proceedings of the 2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS '06), pp. 3381-3386, 01 October 2006.
  1. D. Silver, J. Carsten, S. Thayer, "Topological Global Localization for Subterranean Voids," International Conference on Field and Service Robotics, 01 July 2005.