Corby Waste Artist Bio


Corby Waste is a computer graphic artist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He is senior mission artist for the Mars Exploration Program, although that's not an official title. His images of Mars mission spacecraft have appeared worldwide on the internet, in print, on TV and on numerous products including 98 foreign postage stamps. Since 1998 Corby has created many well-known images for the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Phoenix Mars Lander and Mars Science Laboratory projects, among others. (see Mars Art Headlines Poster)

Corby's father and grandfather worked for San Francisco's Bechtel Corporation and for the first ten years of his life his family traveled extensively. They eventually settled permanently in Marin County, California in his father's home town of Ross. Corby earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He learned computer graphics in the late 1980's at the Computer Arts Institute and the Center for Electronic Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. His first major success as a computer artist was his creation of several highly regarded virtual reality simulations. Following the successful Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997 he was offered a chance to work for the Mars Program at JPL as their first computer artist. His previous space experiences served him well at the Lab.

Over the last 21 years Corby's artwork has enjoyed widespread use by NASA and has even been launched into space twice.

A highlight of his career is that although he is neither a scientist or an engineer he was allowed closeup access to both the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Phoenix Mars Lander inside tightly restricted clean rooms.

In addition to his work for Mars, Corby has created visualizations for Solar System missions and studies including GRAIL, the Lunette lunar lander network study, the MoonRise New Frontiers proposal, Dawn, JUNO and the Titan Saturn System Mission Flagship Study. He was a Board Member at Large of the Fluorescent Mineral Society, has been a member of the Planetary Society since 1985 and his science fiction illustration involvement with the Cordwainer Smith Foundation beginning in 2001 led to his becoming responsible for persuading the Planetary Society to include a CD on board the Cosmos-1 Solar Sail which contained the Cordwainer Smith story "The Lady Who Sailed the Soul". On June 21, 2005, a Russian submarine attempted to launch Cosmos-1, carrying the CD, from the Barents Sea using a converted missile. The launch failed, unfortunately, and the Cosmo-1 and CD were lost.

May, 2012: I was interviewed for podcast by telephone with Australian government science reporter Vanessa Hill about my JPL mission artist job. Listen to "A Planetary Canvas" here.

August 26, 2013: LA Talk Radio show host Ilona Europa interviewed Corby about his JPL mission artist career and also about his friend Scottish music artist Scosha. It was Scosha's first US interview and radio airplay. The audio can be listened to here.

2014: Have created additional gallery webpage for new material including my stories from Twitter.

2015: Twitter announced list of the Top 10 Tweets in History. My Phoenix Mars Lander art appeared as the icon on one of them.


1999 - JPL Team Award, which mentioned my 3D Mars images.

2002 - NASA Group Achievement Award to Mars Theme Education and Public Outreach Team

2006 -NASA Group Achievement Award to Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Development Team

2007 - Phoenix Mars Mission Certificate of Recognition for lasting contribution to the visualization of the Phoenix Mission

2009 -NASA Group Achievement Award for Phoenix Project Science Development

2012 - NASA Group Achievement Award for outstanding and exceptional contributions by the GRAIL mission formulation team in winning the Discovery-12 NASA competition.

2013 - NASA Group Achievement Award for MSL Mission System Development Team


See: My Life on Mars: Working for the Mars Program

See: Mars and Solar System Exploration Artwork Gallery

He designed, created and illustrated the entire Fourth Millennium website (with only a few minor exceptions).


NASA JPL's Mars missions and my spacecraft artwork receive so much world-wide attention that it is impossible to keep track of how widely viewed it is. Here are some uses of my artwork that I am aware of and have in my archival collection:
My Mars mission artwork has been on the cover of Sky and Telescope (twice), Astronomy Now, Nuclear News, 3 issues of Astrobiology, Robot and Urania magazines andinside so many magazines that after a few years of diligently collecting them all I had to gave up and now concentrate mainly on cover issues only.
My Mars and Solar System artwork appears on the cover of at least 14 books that I personally own. I also have over 35 books with my artwork inside. In many cases there are several different images in each book.
TIME's Great Discoveries - Explorations That Changed History (2009) used five Mars spacecraft images and four of them were mine. That's just one example but it shows that my images have pretty much taken over the entire NASA Mars Exploration Program (major exception was the 2003 rovers). They say "you can't win 'em all" but I've come very close.
My NASA mission artwork appears on 94 foreign postage stamps
Some personal favorites:
A Presidential YouTube Debate featured my Mars mission artwork during a question about the future of NASA. 
New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 2000: My 2001 Mars Odyssey art appeared as a "floralgraph" in the Rose Parade in Pasadena. It was created by using only natural, organic materials, e.g., seeds, flowers, etc.
My name was mentioned on the BBC comedy quiz show, QI, which stands for Quite Interesting, on a"C" Series episode that aired Nov. 18, 2005 under the category of "Corby". Corby is a city in the northern UK.
"The Phoenix Mars Lander - an Insiders View", written by me, was published in South African Lapidary Magazine in July, 2007. 
Although so far I have never had my own gallery art show, in 2007 I was asked to be the juror (judge) of a Long Beach art gallery show titled "Art and Science". It was quite an honor because I seemed to have skipped the usual first step of an artist having to work their way up and instead went straight to being the judge.
I was selected to be a judge for the 2012 Humans in Space Youth Art Competition, which was international and organized by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston 
My maternal grandfather, Henry B. Maas, was a successful San Francisco commercial artist. He was most famous for his aviation sketches and paintings. His great-grand-uncle was Swiss settler John Sutter of Gold Rush fame. My paternal grandfather, Bill Waste, was the Executive Vice President of Bechtel Corporation, one of the world's largest engineering and construction companies. Perhaps I inherited "artist" genes and "engineer" genes from them. My "explorer"genes may come from my early Waste family relatives history in America.
Since 1998 I have been a JPL contractor. Over the years my contracting companies were Sterling Software, Raytheon, QSS Group, SkillStorm Government Services and CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation, my current employer).

Unlike my two former JPL Mars Web co-workers, Kirk Goodall (16857 Goodall) and Ron Baalke (6524 Baalke), I have not had an asteroid named after me. But at least now I do know JPL's top Near Earth Object expert Don Yeomans from my work on the US Hayabusa team so maybe someday it could possibly happen. Until that time I am content to be the only person at JPL with a Mars crater with my name on it (as far as I know after extensive searching revealed no other co-workers with their name on a crater).

Corby can be spelled using the symbols for the elements Carbon (C), Oxygen (O), Rubidium (Rb) and Yttrium (Y). It's difficult to find other names that can be spelled in a similar way (see Periodic Table of Elements).

My last name is pronounced just like it sounds - Waste, as in 'waste land". I discovered it's an old variation of West. Corby is my given name, not a nickname.


  Corby Waste Artist Timeline

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 Old Artwork Museum

First Computer Images

Created with LUMENA-16






At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

Created with LUMENA-32, 1990

At The Mountains of Madness is here by permission of Arkham House.




The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

Created with LUMENA-32, 1991-1993

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath is here by permission of Arkham House.



  Virtual Reality Simulations for Sense8 Corporation and others

Created with World Took Kit and World Up software





 Virtual Worlds

Real-time simulations created with World Up for fun




The 160th Century Worlds Tour, the Universe of Cordwainer Smith is here by permission of the Cordwainer Smith Estate.


"Very entertaining virtual reality "tour" of Cordwainer Smith's universe, including the editor's CGI images of Norstrilia, Mother Hitton's farm and other settings from Smith's stories." - Maura Heaphy, author of "Science Fiction Authors, A Research Guide", published in 2009.

The 160th Century Worlds Tour website was reviewed by author Karen Haber (wife of science fiction writer Robert Silverberg) in Locus, the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, in 2002.





160th Century Worlds Tour, the Universe of Cordwainer Smith Artwork


Co-author of "The Role of Stereoscopic Imaging in the Astronomical Study of Nearby Stars and Planetary Systems, SPIE 1997




Planetary Society Bay Area Volunteer Network Website


I was a charter member of the first Planetary Society Volunteer Network to be organized, which was in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1986. Was an active volunteer and website creator until I began working at JPL in 1998.



Created Fourth Millennium website




Mars mission artwork, for the Mars Exploration Program, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Created with 3D Studio Max software and Adobe Photoshop


1998 - present





Solar system mission artwork for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Created with 3D Studio Max software and Adobe Photoshop

1998 - present






Decadal Survey

Here are 7 book covers with my JPL spacecraft artwork that were published by the National Research Council as part of an earlier Decadal Survey (2003)






Decadal Survey

Here are the 15 study covers I created for the Decadal Survey in 2010. A total of 25 were submitted from NASA's Planetary Science Decadal Survey effort. Only a few others from JPL did not use my artwork. The rest were from other NASA centers.






Decadal Survey

This is the only one of my 15 Decadal Survey covers that dealt with asteroids. This image depicts 4 spacecraft, 4 NEO asteroids and 4 trajectories.



I have illustrated 3 Astrobiology covers. s






InSight has been selected

2016 InSight Mars Lander scene used on the winning Discovery proposal cover. The principal investigator wondered if there might be a way to show a "Marsquake". I suggested this cutaway idea - with the core below and the "S" and "P" waves emanating from a quake. He and the team liked it. In this scene a seismometer and drill are making measurements that will investigate the interior of Mars.





Sample Return From "Water" Seeps on Mars, using the Axel Rover

The National Research Council identified mobility in extreme terrains among NASA’s top priorities for technology development for the next five years.







For my newest GRAIL scene I had the idea of using actual ATLO images and then recontructing hem.







 I created this new way of showing the difference between the Moon's Nearside and Farside. Previously a side-view line-drawing figure was used. I added the surface elemental data to illustrate that the higher concentrations of radioactivity on the Nearside is correlated with the KREEP layer beneath. The Farside has little radioactivity and no KREEP layer. I did this work for Maria Zuber and David Smith, GRAIL Extended Mission scientists. Both shallow and deep quakes are seen in a new wayas well.






 I created this new way of showing Titan's interior. It's going to be in "Science" soon. The previously used illustrations relied on unrealistic looking cutaway views. I wanted the layers to have more life-like detail.




My Dawn spacecraft scene was created from construction images I found. It took years for my pic to be seen outside of the Dawn project office but it's now appearing in various places on the public website at











Japanese Hayabusa Asteroid Sample Return

I was the US Hayabusa team artist and created a series of images including 3D.






Hayabusa Touchdown 3D 

This scene was actually created to be in seen in a stereo-viewer using full-color 35 mm slides. That allows the viewer to see the scene in stereo without the red/blue anaglyph distortion. Red and cyan blue glasses are needed to see this anaglyph correctly.



After the successful return of Hayabusa and the first asteroid samples I had the opportunity to create new and better images, such as these three. JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, was appreciative of my efforts.

I used the latest data of asteroid Itokawa's shape and also took pictures of an actual, physical Hayabusa model from JAXA and then combined them into these scenes.



Hayabusa doing reconnaissance on the far side of Itokawa asteroid.






Long-range view of Hayabusa touchdown on Itowkawa asteroid


This new scene was actually created to be in seen in a stereo-viewer using full-color 35 mm slides. That allows the viewer to see the scene in stereo without the red/blue anaglyph distortion. Red and cyan blue glasses are needed to see this anaglyph correctly.



My MoonRise New Frontiers proposal cover art. In this scene the MoonRise lander has collected samples from the Aitken Basin and the Lunar Ascent Vehicle is launching back to Earth.




My Aitken Basin formation impact scene, created for the MoonRise New Frontiers proposal.




I created this vision of an entirely robotic, international village on the Moon. There is mining activity in the background, nuclear fission reactor constuction, in-situ resource production and habitat-building, all in preparation for eventual humans. (2010)











GRAIL logo launch

Two favorite lifetime events in one pic: my 2001 Mars Odyssey logo and my GRAIL logo launches.

The GRAIL logo that I created was launched on Sept. 10, 2011.

The GRAIL MoonKam team's newsletter published an article about my JPL artist career.









I was a Board Member at Large of the Fluorescent Mineral Society

I was the founder and first Regional VP of the Northern California Fluorescent Mineral Society Region, 1992

I discovered and named two world-class fluorescent mineral locations: Hydra Springs (San Benito County, California) and The Green Witch (San Bernardino County, California)

I collected fluorescent minerals in Greenland in 2004.My next major international fluorescent expedition will hopefully be Namibia in Southern Africa.

Fluorescent California Field Research Project

In 2012 I began documenting my recent Southern California fluorescent discoveries. I've created several galleries of my UV fluorescent mineral pics.








And the future?

Am confidently predicting a perfect landing for the Mars Science Laboratory in August. I think it's going to land safely and very close to where it's supposed to. We'll see if I'm right. Just wanted to go "on record".

It's a new landing system but I think the fact that the last 3 Mars landings were all successful is very significant. I think it's a trend.



My early MSL art is still seen many places including this large image on the front of JPL's In Situ Laboratory.