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Photo of Robert Bonitz
   Robert Bonitz
   Senior Robotics Engineer
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California
United States Of America
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High School: Glasgow High School, Glasgow,  MT
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of Nebraska
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Santa Clara University
PhD in Electrical Engineering, University of California, Davis

Background Information
Robert Bonitz was born in Rome, New York. As an Air Force brat he grew up all over the country (mostly in the West). After receiving his Bachelor's degree, he headed east to work for Raytheon in the Boston area. At Raytheon he primarily did systems and circuit analyses on radar systems, but got his first exposure to space systems when doing analyses on the Apollo guidance computer and a receiver used in a scientific experiment to find water below the surface of the moon (none was found). The Boston weather was not conducive to his primary hobby - skydiving - so he headed west for the blue skies of California where he worked for a number of industrial companies in Silicon Valley including TRW, Source 2 International, and CTIS. He then got bitten by the robotics bug and pursued graduate studies in control systems and robotics.

He joined JPL in 1996 to develop the control algorithms and write the software for the Mars Volatiles and Climate Surveyor (MVACS)robotic arm to be used to dig up Martian soil samples for insitu analysis including looking for water ice. After MVACS, he worked on the Mars '01 Lander robotic arm and on the Cryobot project before joining the MER team to develop the control algorithms and write the software for it's robotic arm - dubbed the Instrument Deployment Device (IDD). When not working on MER, he can be found at local drop zones jumping out of "perfectly good airplanes" or schussing at area ski resorts. Earlier in his skydiving career he was both a competitor and team leader of the U.S. Skydiving Team winning over a dozen medals in national and world competition. He is also a refugee rocker from the 60s, but that's another story.

Contributions to Mars Exploration

content image for contributions section Developed the control algorithms and software that drives the Instrument Deployment Device (robotic arm). Is one of the Rover Planers (operators) that drive the rover and arm on the surface of Mars. [more contributions ...]
Personal Reflections

content image for personal reflections section Skydiving - here's an image of a record jump I was on in Decemeber 2002. [more personal reflections ...]