Mike Caplinger

Michael Caplinger, Senior Scientist

Michael Caplinger has been with the MOC Project since 1988, starting at Arizona State University and moving to MSSS when it was formed in 1991. His duties on MOC have included: system architect and lead software engineer for the MOC Ground Data System; software team member for the MOC flight software (responsible for data compression and image processing subsystems and system test); flight software cognizant engineer for MOC and MOC2; calibration/test lead for MOC2; and flight hardware cognizant engineer for MOC2. Since 1995, he has also served as MARCI/MARDI Instrument Manager/System Engineer, where he has been responsible for system architecture, electronics design, fabrication, and test, and software development (both ground and flight.) In addition, he has pursued research interests in machine vision techniques for geodesy, mapping and navigation using remote sensing data.

The picture above was taken next to the Mars Observer spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center in September 1992.


B.A., 1981, Rice University, Physics/Computer Science; M.S., 1984, Rice University, Computer Science; Ph.D., 1985, Rice University, Computer Science.


Senior Scientist, Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., 1991-present; Academic Professional, Department of Geology, Arizona State University, 1988-1991; Member of the Technical Staff, Network Systems and Services Division, Bell Communications Research, 1985-1988.

Spaceflight Hardware Experience:

Systems Engineer, NASA Juno Camera (Junocam), 2006-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Phoenix Mars Descent Imager (MARDI/PHX), 2003-2008.
Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Science Lander Mastcam/MAHLI/MARDI, 2004-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), 2004-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Color Imager (MARCI05), 2002-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX), 2002-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Surveyor 2001 Orbiter THEMIS Visible Imaging Subsystem, 1998-present.
Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander Descent Imager (MARDI 2001), 1998-2000.
Instrument Manager/Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Climate Orbiter Color Imager (MARCI), 1995-1999.
Instrument Manager/Systems Engineer, NASA Mars Polar Lander Descent Imager (MARDI), 1995-2000.
Design Scientist, NASA Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter Camera (MOC 2), 1994-2007.
Design Scientist, NASA Mars Observer Camera (MOC), 1988-1994.
Project Technical Lead, Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program - Small Spacecraft Imaging Systems, 1990-1995.

Science Experience:

Co-Investigator (Berthold K.P. Horn, PI), "Topography from Shading and Stereo" (NASA NRA-89-OSSA-21), 1991-1993.

Research Interests:

Computer vision, spaceborne imaging systems, computer graphics, physical modeling, programming environments, user interface design, efficient compilation of high-level and object-oriented languages, systems for information retrieval, distributed operating systems, computers in education, computer architecture, autonomous rotorcraft.


"Phoenix: A Unix Emulator for VAX/VMS," Proceedings of the 1982 USENIX Conference, Boston, Mass, July 1982.

"Structured Editor Support for Modularity and Data Abstraction," Proceedings of the 1985 ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Language Issues in Programming Environments (SIGPLAN Notices 20, 7), July 1985.

"An Incremental Unparser for Structured Editors" (with Robert Hood), Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, January 1986.

"Graphical Database Browsing," Proceedings of the Third ACM-SIGOIS Conference on Office Information Systems (SIGOIS Bulletin 7, 2-3), October 1986.

"An Information System Based on Distributed Objects," 1987 ACM Conference on Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages, and Applications, (Sigplan Notices 22, 12), December 1987.

"A Memory Allocator with Garbage Collection for C," Proceedings of the Winter 1988 USENIX Technical Conference, February 1988.

"Browsing in a Hyperlibrary" (with Bruce Schatz), Fifth IEEE International Conference on Data Engineering, February 1989.

"The Mars Observer Camera Ground Data System," Conference Proceedings of AIAA Computers in Aerospace 9, October 1993.

"Automatic Commanding of the Mars Observer Camera," Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Automation for Space, October 1994.

M. C. Malin, M. H. Carr, G. E. Danielson, M. E. Davies, W. K. Hartmann, A. P. Ingersoll, P. B. James, H. Masursky, A. S. McEwen, L. A. Soderblom, P. Thomas, J. Veverka, M. A. Caplinger, M. A. Ravine, T. A. Soulanille, and J. L. Warren, "Early Views of the Martian Surface from the Mars Orbiter Camera of Mars Global Surveyor," Science, 279, pp 1681-1685, March 1998.

M. Malin, J. Bell, W. Calvin, R. Clancy, R. Haberle, P. James, S. Lee, P. Thomas , and M. Caplinger, "The Mars Color Imager on the Mars Climate Orbiter", Journal of Geophysical Research, in press.

M. Malin, M. Caplinger, M. Carr, S. Squyres, P. Thomas, and J. Veverka, "The Mars Descent Imager on the Mars Polar Lander", Journal of Geophysical Research, in press.

Thomas, P., and 7 others including M. Caplinger, "Phobos: Regolith and ejecta blocks investigated with Mars Orbiter Camera images", Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 15091-15106, 2000.

M. Caplinger and M. Malin, "The Mars Orbiter Camera Geodesy Campaign", Journal of Geophysical Research, V106, E10, 2001.

M. C. Malin, M. A. Caplinger, and S. D. Davis, "Observational evidence for an active surface reservoir of solid carbon dioxide on Mars", Science, 294, 2146-2148, 2001.

P.R. Christensen, Jakosky B.M., Kieffer H.H., Malin M.C., McSween Jr. H.Y., Nealson K., Mehall G.L., Silverman S.H., Ferry S., Caplinger M., Ravine M., "The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) for the Mars 2001 Odyssey Mission", Space Science Reviews, vol. 110, no. 1-2, pp. 85-130, 2004.