NIWeek 2003 Closes with Keynote from Former Mars Pathfinder Leader

8/18/2003 - Brian Muirhead, former project manager of the Mars Pathfinder mission and current chief engineer of the Mars Science Laboratory, delivered a keynote address at National Instruments NIWeek 2003, the world's leading conference on virtual instrumentation. He shared his knowledge, experiences and vision of the roles that software and hardware play in space exploration to close the conference, which was attended by a record number of engineers and scientists from around the world.

"Application of advanced technology in deep space missions is critical to mission success," Muirhead said. "In addition, rapid decision-making was a hallmark of our implementation of the Mars Pathfinder mission. The leadership had a deep knowledge of what was going on so when problems arose we could fix them quickly and move on. And ultimately, we depended on a strategy of 'test, test, test' to accomplish the mission faster, better and cheaper."

NI products are among the technologies that JPL uses in their most challenging missions. For example, JPL uses NI LabVIEW and LabVIEW Real-Time for a variety of projects -- from testing parts of the Mars Pathfinder rover to some day controlling the world's most accurate atomic reference clock in space. NI LabVIEW was also used in the Mars Pathfinder mission to test the rover on the ground and monitor the telemetry and the performance of the rover throughout the mission.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation -- a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for customers worldwide through easy-to-integrate software, such as the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, and modular hardware, such as PXI modules for data acquisition, instrument control and machine vision. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,000 employees and direct operations in 40 countries.

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