Skip Navigation


Khaled Ali


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 264-450

Pasadena, CA 91109



Member of:

347G - Robotic Manipulation and Sampling

Khaled S. Ali, PhD


Khaled S. Ali is a member of the Robotic Manipulation and Sampling group. He has worked on various space flight missions and research tasks since joining JPL in 1996. Dr. Ali is currently the Flight Software CogE for the Sample Transfer System on the Mars Sample Return Lander. He was the Flight Software CogE for the Instrument Deployment Arm and the Deputy Lead for the Instrument Deployment System Operations Team on the InSight mission, and he still participates in InSight operations.

Previously, Dr. Ali participated in operations for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission as the Flight Software/Data Management Team Lead. Dr. Ali managed the development of the current and previous versions of the flight software (FSW) for the MER rovers, and the validation of four new technologies that were added to the previous version of the MER Flight Software. He also served as a MER Rover Planner, driving the rover and operating the robotic arm. Dr. Ali wrote a variety of flight software for MER. He developed the low-level driver software which controls most of the sensors and propulsion hardware on the spacecrafts which carried the twin rovers to Mars. He also developed the software which determines and keeps track of the rovers orientation and position on Mars, as well as software that keeps a high-gain antenna pointed at Earth, facilitating communications with the rovers.

Furthermore, Dr. Ali helped develop autonomous behaviors for the Europa Lander Sampling task and participated in the Mars Polar Lander and Mars 01 Lander flight missions. He was the Cognizant Engineer for the Spacecraft Surface Systems Software for the Lunar Surface Operations Testbed. He has participated in various robotics research tasks as well, including science instrument simulation, all-terrain rovers, visual target tracking, health-care robotics, and a robotic arm to perform plant micro-propagation. Also, Dr. Ali lead the JPL side of an effort to form collaborations between JPL and the Norwegian energy industry.


Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology
M.S. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University

Professional Experience

  • Mars Sample Return Lander Sample Transfer System Flight Software Cognizant Engineer (2020 - present)
  • InSight Instrument Deployment Team Operations Team Deputy Lead (2018 - 2021)
  • InSight Instrument Deployment Arm Flight Software Cognizant Engineer (2012 - present)
  • Europa Lander Sampling Task (2016)
  • Cognizant Engineer for Spacecraft Surface Systems Software for the Lunar Surface Operations Testbed (2010 - 2011)
  • Mars Exploration Rover Operations (2003 - 2013)
    • Flight Software/Data Management Team Lead for Mars Exploration Rover Operations
    • Mars Exploration Rover Rover Planner
    • Lead the validation effort of the four new technologies added to the Mars Exploration Rover flight software version R9.2
    • Mars Exploration Rover Flight Software/Data Management Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team Member
    • Mars Exploration Rover Mobility/Instrument Deployment Device Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Team Member
  • Mars Exploration Rover Flight Software Developer (2000 - 2003, 2005 - 2006, 2007 - 2009)
    • Software Manager of the Mars Exploration Rover flight software development for versions R9.2 and R9.3
    • Developer for most of the device drivers for the sensors and propulsion hardware on the Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft
    • Developer for Mars Exploration Rover surface attitude and position estimation software
    • Developer for Mars Exploration Rover high gain antenna pointing software
  • CLARAty Robotic Software Architecture Development (2006-2008, 2012)
  • Science Operations On Planetary Surfaces onboard software developer (2006 - 2007)
  • Visual Target Tracking Integrator (2005)
  • Software Developer for Reconfigurable Robotic Surface Systems for All Terrain Exploration (2000)
  • Software Developer for Plant Micro-Propagation Robotic Arm (2000)
  • Flight software integration for Mars 01 Lander (2000)
  • Mars Polar Lander MVACS Robotic Arm Operator (1999 - 2000)
  • Health Care Robotics Developer (1996)

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects
Instrument Deployment System (IDS)
Sample Transfer System


  1. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, Khaled Ali, Cristina Sorice, Philip Bailey, Won Kim, Omair Khan, Grace Lim, Nythi Udomkesmalee, Pranay Mishra, Hallie Abarca, Robert G. Deen, Steven Myint, Justin Maki, Jeng Yen, "Robotics Instrument Deployment System Surface Operations for the InSight Mars Lander," Proceedings of the SpaceOps 2020 Conference, 01 May 2020.
  2. Travis Imken, Khaled Ali, Philip Bailey, Pranay Mishra, James Penrod, Cristina Sorice, Marleen Sundgaard, Maggie Williams, "Preparation and Execution of the InSight Instrument Deployment Phase," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, March 7-14, 2020, 01 March 2020.
  3. Philip Bailey, Cristina Sorice, Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, Khaled Ali, Steven Myint, Won Kim, "Deployed Instrument Monocular Localization on the InSight Mars Lander," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, March 7-14, 2020, 01 March 2020.
  1. J. Maki, A. Trebi-Ollennu, B. Banerdt, C. Sorice, P. Bailey, O. Khan, W. Kim, K. Ali, G. Lim, R. Deen, H. Abarca, N. Ruoff, G. Hollins, P. Andres, J. Hall, and the InSight Operations Team, "Imaging from the InSight Lander," Proceedings of 21st EGU General Assembly, EGU2019, 01 January 2019.
  1. A. Trebi-Ollennu, Won Kim, Khaled Ali, Omair Khan, Cristina Sorice, Philip Bailey, Jeffrey Umland, Robert Bonitz, Constance Ciarleglio, Jennifer Knight, Nicolas Haddad, Kerry Klein, Scott Nowak, Daniel Klein, Nicholas Onufer, Kenneth Glazebrook, Brad Kobeissi, Enrique Baez, Felix Sarkissian, Menooa Badalian, Hallie Abarca, Robert G. Deen, Jeng Yen, Steven Myint, Justin Maki, Ali Pourangi, Jonathan Grinblat, Brian Bone, Noah Warner, Jaime Singer, Joan Ervin, Justin Lin, ""InSight Mars Lander Robotics Instrument Deployment System"," Space Science Rev, (2018) 214:93, 13 August 2018.
  2. M. Golombek, M. Grott, G. Kargl, J. Andrade, J. Marshall, N. Warner, N. A. Teanby, V. Ansan, E. Hauber, J. Voigt, R. Lichtenheldt, B. Knapmeyer-Endrun, I. J. Daubar, D. Kipp, N. Muller, P. Lognonné, C. Schmelzbach, D. Banfield, A. Trebi-Ollennu, J. Maki, S. Kedar, D. Mimoun, N. Murdoch, S. Piqueux, P. Delage, W. T. Pike, C. Charalambous, R. Lorenz, L. Fayon, A. Lucas, S. Rodriguez, P. Morgan, A. Spiga, M. Panning, T. Spohn, S. Smrekar, T. Gudkova, R. Garcia, D. Giardini, U. Christensen, T. Nicollier, D. Sollberger, J. Robertsson, K. Ali, B. Kenda, W. B. Banerdt, ""Geology and Physical Properties Investigations by the InSight Lander"," Space Science Rev (2018) 214: 84, 13 August 2018.
  1. H. Nayar, K. Ali, A. Aubrey, T. Estlin, J. Hall, I. Nesnas, A. Parness, D. Wiberg, "Space Robotics Technologies for Deep Well Operations," Proceedings of the Offshore Technology Conference, April 30-May 3, 2012, Houston, TX, 18 September 2012.
  2. K.S. Ali, C.A. Vanelli, "The Effects of Clock Drift on the Mars Exploration Rovers," Proceedings of the 2012 AIAA Space Conference, 01 September 2012.
  3. A. Trebi-Ollennu, K. S. Ali, A. L. Rankin, K. S. Tso, C. Assad, J. B. Matthews, R. G. Deen, D. A. Alexander, R. Toda, H. Manohara, M. Wolf, J. R. Wright, J. Yen, F. Hartman, R. G. Bonitz, and A. R. Sirota,, "Lunar Surface Operations Testbed (LSOT)," Proceedings of the IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2012.
  1. W.KIm, I. Nesnas, M. Bajracharya, R. Madison, A. Ansar, R. Steele, J. Jiesiadecki, K.Ali, "Targeted Driving Using Visual Tracking on Mars: From Research to Flight," Journal of Field Robotics, 01 January 2009.
  1. 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.
  2. C. Vanelli and K. Ali, "High Gain Antenna Pointing on the Mars Exploration Rovers," Proc. of the 2005 IEEE Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 01 October 2005.
  3. W. Kim A. Ansar R. Steele K. Ali I. Nesnas, "Rover-Based Visual Target Tracking Validation and Mission Infusion," American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Conference, 01 January 2005.
  1. R. Cipra, H. Das, K. Ali, D. Hong, "Device for Automated Cutting and Transfer of Plant Shoots," NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 9, p. 56, 01 September 2003.
  1. Ronald C. Arkin, Khaled Ali, Alfredo Weitzenfeld, Francisco Cervantes-Perez, "Behavioral Models of the Praying Mantis as a Basis for Robotic Behavior," Journal of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 32, No. 1, 39-60, 01 July 2000.
  2. Paul G. Backes, Kam S. Tso, Jeffrey S. Norris, Gregory K. Tharp, Jeffrey T. Slostad, Robert G. Bonitz, and Khaled S. Ali, "Internet-Based Operations for the Mars Polar Lander Mission," Proc. of the 2000 IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation, 01 April 2000.
  3. K. Ali, R. Arkin, "Multiagent Teleautonomous Behavioral Control," Machine Intelligence & Robotic Control, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 3-10, 01 January 2000.
  4. 25. P. S. Schenker, P. Pirjanian, B. Balaram, K. S. Ali, A. Trebi-Ollennu, T. L. Huntsberger, H. Aghazarian, B. A. Kennedy and E. T. Baumgartner, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; K. Iagnemma, A. Rzepniewski, and S. Dubowsky, P. C. Leger and D. Apostolopoulos,G. T. McKee, "Reconfigurable robots for all terrain exploration," in Proc. SPIE Vol. 4196, Sensor Fusion and Decentralized Control in Robotic Systems III, Boston, MA, Nov. 5-8, 2000, 01 January 2000.
  1. K. S. Ali, "Multiagent Telerobotics: Matching Systems to Tasks," Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Computing, 01 June 1999.
  1. K. Ali and R. Arkin, "Implementing Schema-theoretic Models of Animal Behavior in Robotic Systems," Proc. of the 1998 5th International Workshop on Advanced Motion Control, 01 June 1998.
  1. D. Bentivegna, K. Ali, R. Arkin, T. Balch, "Design and Implementation of a Teleautonomous Hummer," Proc. of Mobile Robots XII, 01 January 1997.
  2. P. Fiorini, K. Ali, H. Seraji, "Health Care Robotics: A Progress Report," Proc. IEEE Intern. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, Albuquerque, vol. 2, pp. 1271-1276, 01 January 1997.
  1. K. Ali and A. Goel, "Combining Navigational Planning and Reactive Control," Proc. AAAI-96 Workshop on Reasoning About Actions, Planning, and Control: Bridging the Gap, 01 January 1996.
  1. A. Goel, K. Ali, M. Donnellan, A. Gomez de Silva Garza, and T. Callantine, "Multistrategy Adaptive Path Planning," IEEE Expert, Vol. 9, No. 6, 01 December 1994.
  2. R. Arkin and K. Ali, "Integration of Reactive and Telerobotic Control in Multi-agent Robotic Systems," Proc. Third International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, (SAB94) [From Animals to Animats], 01 August 1994.
  3. A. Goel, K. Ali and A. Gomez, "Computational Trade-Offs in Experience-Based Reasoning," Proc. AAAI-94 Workshop on Evaluating Case-Based Reasoning, 01 July 1994.