Bob Anderson was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised in Newport News, Virginia. He attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in geology in 1979. In 1985, he received a Master of Science from Old Dominion University in geology with emphasis on structural geology and mapping tectonic features surrounding the Tharsis region of Mars. In 1995, he received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in geology with emphasis on visible and near-infrared remote sensing. His Ph.D. research was centered on mapping young Quaternary surfaces, desert pavements and varnish, and soils around the Whipple Mountains of southwestern Arizona to better understand the past climatic history of the region. He is presently Adjunct Research Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Geology and Planetary Science as well as Adjunct Faculty at Pasadena City College teaching classes in Planetary Geology.
Bob came to JPL in 1996 to work on the Mars Pathfinder mission for Dr. Matt Golombek. After the conclusion of the Mars Pathfinder project, he was Deputy Director of Mars Education under Dr. Cheick Diarra and subsequent Mission Planner for the Mars 2001 lander. He has work with the FIDO rover team and is presently a geological consultant for Machine Learning Systems Group at JPL where his emphasis is on autonomous rover operations.
Bob and his wife Yanhua (who also works at JPL on the Cassini mission), and his father Henry live at Stevenson Ranch, where he enjoys running, gardening, and weight lifting and taking care of his salt water reef tanks.