"Jake Matijevic" rock on Mars - a target of the APSX and ChemCam instruments on the Curiosity rover (September 22, 2012).

Jacob Matijevic

Jacob Matijevic photograph

Jacob (Richard) Matijevic, also known as "Jake" Matijevic, (3 November 1947 - 20 August 2012) was an American NASA engineer of Croatian origin[1] who worked on Mars Exploration Rovers.[2][3][4] Dr. Matijevic was involved in developing the "Sojourner", "Spirit", "Opportunity" and "Curiosity" rovers. For his contributions to the rover projects, NASA named several landmarks on the planet Mars (including "Matijevic Hill" and "Jake Matijevic" rock) after him.[2][5][6]

Dr. Matijevic was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois[3] and graduated from Mount Carmel High School. In 1969, he received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and, in 1973, earned a Ph.D. degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago.[2]

In 1981, Dr. Matijevic began working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as a control systems engineer. In 1986, he worked in the telerobotics field and later, in 1992, began work with the Mars "Sojourner" rover. This rover was delivered to Mars by the Pathfinder spacecraft in 1996.[2]

Afterwards, Dr. Matijevic helped develop the "Spirit" and "Opportunity" rovers that began exploring Mars in 2004. He also helped develop the "Curiosity" rover that landed on Mars in August 2012, just two weeks before his death.[2]

After his death, NASA decided to name a Mars hill, "Matijevic Hill", encountered by the "Opportunity" rover, and also a Mars rock, "Jake Matijevic", encountered by the "Curiosity" rover, in his honor for his many contributions to the Mars rover projects over the years.[2][5]

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