Alberto Behar
Dr. Alberto Behar. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

JPL employees were deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Alberto Behar, who died in the crash of a small plane on Friday, Jan. 10, near Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles area.

During his 23-year career at JPL, Dr. Behar specialized in robotics for exploring extreme environments on Earth and other planets. He played a key role in developing in situ robotic systems for measuring ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland using submarines, ice rovers and boats. He also participated in the exploration of Mars, serving as investigation scientist for instruments on the Curiosity rover and the Mars Odyssey orbiter. Alberto was also a research professor at Arizona State University, helping to develop the next generation of explorers.

"We will deeply miss Alberto," said Dr. Michael Watkins, manager of JPL's Science Division. "He was well known for his energy, enthusiasm, and technical excellence. His career was dedicated to better understanding Earth and the other planets. On behalf of everyone at JPL, I wish to extend our condolences to his family and friends."

In Washington, NASA Headquarters scientist Dr. Thomas Wagner praised Behar this way:

"From his submarines that peeked under Antarctica to his boats that raced Greenland's rivers, Alberto's work enabled measurements of things we'd never known. His creativity knew few bounds. He is, and will forever be, sorely missed."

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Veronica McGregor
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.