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Viktor Kerzhanovich


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 198-219
Pasadena, CA 91109





Viktor V Kerzhanovich

Principal Member of Technical Staff


Viktor Kerzhanovich is Principal Member of Technical Staff of the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section (347) of the Autonomous Systems Division (34). He joined JPL in 1997 and since he is actively involved in development of planetary robotic balloons including conceptual design, modelling, simulation and flight tests. Some of these concepts were base of five Discovery mission proposals.
Viktor received his B.S. degree in Physics from Moscow State University of the former USSR in 1961, Candidate of Sciences and Doctor of Sciences degrees in physics from Space Research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences. He pioneered and led experiments on atmospheric dynamics and was Co-Investigator for other experiments on 15 Soviet Venera and Mars missions that include probes, balloons and orbiters. Viktor participated at all phases from concept development to implementation and mission operations. He received the USSR State Prize and several NASA Group Achievement Awards.


B.S. in Physics, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Candidate of Sciences in Physics and Mathematics, Space Research Institute of Soviet Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Doctor of Sciences in Physics and Mathematics, Space Research Institute of Soviet Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Professional Experience

Leader and key team member of different planetary aerobot technology development programs. Lead numerous studies, system engineering, prototype flight system development, logistics and infrastructure of flight tests, wind tunnel, hangar Initiated and lead tropospheric and stratospheric flight tests of the Mars and Venus balloons prototypes, and of airships that were completed with successful flight demonstrations. Cooperated in flight tests with other NASA centers (Langley, Glenn, Dryden, Goddard, Ames) and industry.

Developed concepts of different planetary aerobot missions, which lead to submission of two Discovery proposals (VEVA and Piccard). Key member of VEVA and VALOR Discovery proposal teams, Co-I in Doppler Wind Experiment for VALOR Discovery proposal.

Developed a Dual-Balloon concept - the first practical approach to lift payloads from the surface of Venus for Venus In-situ Explorer and Venus Sample return missions.

Derived Titan wind profile as team member of the JPL contribution to Huygens Doppler wind experiment.

Coordinated launch campaign (joint operations and telecommunications) that lead to successful launch of two GRACE satellites by the Russian LV Rockot from cosmodrome Plesetsk in March 2002.

Previous experience
Concept development, system engineering, communication and tracking with Hughes Space and Communication Company for Mars Polar Lander and Venus Multiprobe Mission proposals .

Lead Scientist, Space Research Institute of Soviet Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Pioneered planetary wind experiments from Doppler tracking of in situ probes that resulted in discovery of super-rotation of the bulk of the atmosphere of Venus. PI and Co-PI for the Doppler wind measurements, in situ and remote sensing experiments on all Soviet Venera, VEGA and Mars probes. .

Developed concept of the small Mars lander that evolved to the Small Stations of the Mars 96 project. Deputy Project Scientist of the Soviet-French Mars Aerostat , Mars Small Stations and Phobos Lander projects. Lead design of the Mars Balloon communication system. Managed the Soviet ground tracking and VLBI network for the Soviet-French-US VEGA Balloon project
Participated in all development phases of planetary probes form initial proposal to mission operations and data analysis.

Click here for a list of publications.

Research Interests

Planetary Aerobots: concepts, design, development., modeling, implementation, testing

Concept development of planetary entry probes

Tracking and communication with planetary probes

Doppler wind experiments

Flight Project and Research Task Involvement

Research Tasks
Mars Superpressure Balloons
Titan Aerobots


  1. Jeffery L. Hall, Michael T. Pauken, Viktor V. Kerzhanovich, Gerald J. Walsh, Eric A. Kulczycki, Debora Fairbrother, Chris Shreves and Tim Lachenmeier, "Mars Balloon Flight Test Results," AIAA Paper 2009-2809 presented at the AIAA Balloon Systems Conference, Seattle, WA, 4-7 May, 2009., 01 May 2009.
  1. V.Kerzhanovich, A.Yavrouian, J.Hall, J.Cutts, "Dual Balloon Concept For Lifting Payloads From The Surface Of Venus," XVI AIAA LTA Systems and Balloon Technology Conference, 12, 01 September 2005.