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Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of JPL

Dr. Charles Elachi

JPL Director Charles Elachi

Dr. Charles Elachi, Director

Dr. Charles Elachi was appointed director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in May 2001.

Dr. Elachi is also vice president of the California Institute of Technology. He received a bachelor of science (1968) in physics from University of Grenoble, France; a diplom-ingenieur (1968) in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble; and master of science (1969) and doctorate (1971) degrees in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He also has a master of science (1983) degree in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master of business administration (1979) from the University of Southern California. He joined JPL in 1970 and is a professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech.

He has been a principal investigator on a number of research and development studies and flight projects sponsored by NASA. These include the Shuttle Imaging Radar series (science team leader), the Magellan Imaging Radar (team member) and the Cassini Titan Radar (team leader). He is the author of more than 230 publications in the fields of active microwave remote sensing and electromagnetic theory, and he holds several patents in those fields. He taught physics of remote sensing at Caltech from 1982 to 2001.

As the director for Space and Earth Science Programs at JPL from 1982 to 2000, he was responsible for the development of numerous flight missions and instruments for Earth observation, planetary exploration and astrophysics.

In 1988, the Los Angeles Times selected him as one of "Southern California's rising stars who will make a difference in L.A." In 1989, Asteroid 1982 SU was renamed 4116 Elachi in recognition of his contribution to planetary exploration.

In 1989, Dr. Elachi was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and has served on a number of academy committees.

In 2006, he was selected as one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

He has chaired a number of strategic planning committees for NASA. He has lectured in more than 20 countries about space exploration and Earth observation. He participated in a number of archeological expeditions in Egypt, Oman and China.

He is the past chair and current member of the UCLA Sciences Board of Visitors, a member of the Board of Trustees of Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Lebanese American University in New York and Beirut, and a member of the International Advisory Board of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia. He was a member of the University of Arizona Engineering School Advisory Committee and the Boston University Center of Remote Sensing Advisory Council.

Dr. Elachi has received numerous awards, including the Pasadena Arts Council Inaugural AxS (Arts & Sciences) Award (2012), the National Academy of Engineering Arthur M. Bueche Award (2011), "Chevalier de la Légion ďHonneur, France" (2011), Space Foundation J.E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award (2011), AIAA Carl Sagan Award (2011), Occidental College honorary doctor of science degree (2011), Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement (2008), International von Karman Wings Award (2007), the Royal Society of London Massey Award (2006), the Lebanon Order of Cedars (2006), the Philip Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service (2006), the American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award (2005), Bob Hope Distinguished Citizen Award (2005), NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2005), NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2004, 2002, 1994), the Takeda Award (2002), the Wernher von Braun Award (2002), Dryden Award (2000), the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1999), the COSPAR Nordberg Medal (1996), the Nevada Medal (1995), the IEEE Medal of Engineering Excellence (1992), the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Distinguished Achievement Award (1987), the W.T. Pecora Award (1985), the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1982) and the ASP Autometric Award (1980,1982). He is a fellow of the IEEE and AIAA and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics.

 

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    Aerial view of JPL's main facility near Los Angeles

    About twice the size of California's Disneyland, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a 177-building campus situated in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. In addition to a mission control center and 9,600 square-foot clean room, the lab is home to a simulated Mars landscape called the Mars Yard, as well as a 25-foot space simulator. In the fall of 2009, JPL unveiled its newest building, the environmentally friendly Flight Projects Center, which houses missions during their design and development phases.

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  • Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres

    Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres

    Launched in 2007, Dawn is the first spacecraft designed to orbit two different bodies after leaving Earth. In July 2011, it will arrive at the giant asteroid Vesta, which it will orbit before departing to reach the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. The feat is enabled by Dawn's use of ion engines to gradually accelerate the spacecraft.

  • Juno mission to Jupiter

    Juno mission to Jupiter

    One of four JPL missions set to launch in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will study the giant gas planet Jupiter to help understand its origins and evolution. Because of its mass, Jupiter -- the largest planet in the solar system -- still holds much of its original composition. By investigating Jupiter's core, intense magnetic field, auroras and atmospheric composition, scientists hope to collect important clues about the formation of the solar system when Juno arrives at the planet in 2016.

  • GRAIL lunar gravity mission

    GRAIL lunar gravity mission

    Flying twin spacecraft in tandem orbits, the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission will launch in September 2011 to measure the moon's gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission will also answer longstanding mysteries about Earth's moon -- including the possible existence and composition of an inner core -- and the origins of the solar system.

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  • Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif.

    Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif.

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