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Philip Twu


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-138

Pasadena, CA 91101


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Member of:

347P - Aerial and Orbital Image Analysis

Philip Y Twu, PhD

Group Leader


Dr. Philip Twu is a Robotics System Engineer and Group Leader for the Aerial and Orbital Image Analysis Group. He earned a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012, where his research focused on decentralized coordination algorithms for multi-robot systems.

From 2012-2017 Philip was at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) where he worked on and took leadership roles in a diverse portfolio of projects related to algorithm development, analysis, software engineering, and systems engineering. In these roles, Philip performed end-to-end system-of-systems analysis, concept exploration, trade studies, modeling, and simulation of networked sensor systems. He led a software development team to support planetary scientists in the visualization, mapping, and analysis of science data for small solar system bodies. Philip has also made critical contributions to spacecraft fault management integration and testing for the Parker Solar Probe mission, space system modeling and simulation for mission concept studies, and the development of autonomy algorithms for heterogeneous teams of unmanned vehicles.

Philip joined JPL in 2017 and has been primarily involved with flight projects. On the Mars 2020 mission, he was systems engineer for the Perseverance rover's new autonomous navigation system and also worked surface operations as mobility downlink chair. Philip is currently the Task Manager and Autonomy Architect for Europa Lander Surface Mission Autonomy where he leads multi-disciplinary teams in concept formulation, system architecting, system modeling, software prototype integration and test, and knowledge capture documentation.


Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012
M.S. in Space Systems Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2018
M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009
B.S. in Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland, 2008
B.S. in Computer Science, University of Maryland, 2008

Professional Experience

2017-Present: Robotics System Engineer and 347P Group Lead, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
2015-2017: Vehicle Autonomy Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
2012-2015: Network Tracking and Data Fusion Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
2010-2011: Technical Summer Multiple Discipline Systems Engineer, MITRE Corporation
2009-2012: Graduate Research Assistant, Georgia Institute of Technology
2008-2009: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Georgia Institute of Technology
2007-2008: Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Maryland
2007: Summer Intern, Intelligent Automation, Inc.
2006-2007: Software Engineer, TRX Systems

Research Interests

Ocean Worlds Exploration
Solar System Exploration
Robotics Systems Engineering
Autonomous Systems
Space Systems Engineering
Education and Public Outreach


NASA Early Career Achievement Medal (M2020 Mobility Systems Engineering), 2022
JPL Voyager Award (Europa Lander Surface Mission Autonomy Team Leadership and Knowledge Capture), 2022
M2020 SOX Phase Development and Execution Team Award, 2021
JPL Discovery Bonus Award (M2020 RNAV Systems Engineering), 2019
JPL Guidance and Control Team Award (M2020 Heritage GNC/TRN/Surface GNC Team), 2018
JPL Team Bonus Award (Multi-Mission, Multi-Agent Autonomy Architecture Team), 2017
JHU/APL Space Swifties (Lightning Talks) First Place, 2016
JHU/APL Special Achievement Award, 2014
JHU/APL Special Achievement Award, 2013
JHU/APL Recognition Award, 2012
29th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) Best Graduate Student Paper, 2010
2009 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, 2009
Georgia Institute of Technology President’s Fellowship, 2008 to 2012
A. James Clark School of Engineering Nariman Farvardin Scholarship, 2007 to 2008
A. James Clark School of Engineering Yurie Scholarship, 2006 to 2007
A. James Clark School of Engineering Merit Scholarship, 2006
Tau Beta Pi Electee Scholarship, 2006

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Flight Projects
Robot Operations


  1. R. Rieber, M. Stragier, P. Twu, M. McHenry, "Planning for a Martian Road Trip – the Mars2020 Mobility Systems Design," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 01 March 2022.
  2. 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. 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.