Mars Atmosphere Researcher McCleese Named JPL Chief Scientist

Dr. Daniel McCleese Dr. Dan McCleese. Image credit: NASA/JPL
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June 19, 2006

The director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has appointed Dr. Daniel J. McCleese as the laboratory's chief scientist.

JPL's chief scientist is responsible for the scientific leadership and research at the laboratory and serves as the focal point for interactions with universities and the external research community. The chief scientist also serves on JPL's Executive Council.

JPL Director Dr. Charles Elachi said, "Dan brings extensive experience in the strategic planning of NASA robotic missions, line and program management, as well as considerable experience in the development and execution of scientific instruments."

McCleese's research has led to increased understanding of the atmospheres of Earth, Venus and Mars. He is the principal investigator for the Mars Climate Sounder instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which reached Mars two months ago. He will continue in that role while in his new position. Since 1994, McCleese has served as JPL's chief scientist for Mars exploration. Dr. David W. Beaty, JPL's Mars program science manager, is assuming the Mars chief scientist role on an acting basis.

McCleese said, "I am honored to become the chief scientist at JPL. It's a position that covers the full range of JPL science, from the core of the Earth to the outer edges of the universe."

His appointment to be chief scientist at JPL is effective today. His four predecessors have been Drs. Rochus Vogt, Arden Albee, Moustafa T. Chahine, and Thomas R. Prince. After serving in that role for the past four years, Prince is resuming his research and teaching activities at the California Institute of Technology campus and at JPL, which is a division of Caltech.

McCleese was a Fulbright Scholar at Jesus College, Oxford University in England, where he earned his doctorate in atmospheric physics. His bachelor's degree in physics is from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio. Since coming to JPL in 1976, he has worked on NASA missions to study Earth's atmosphere, Venus and Mars. He has been a visiting associate in planetary science at Caltech since 2000, and he received NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2005.

Media contact: Guy Webster (818)354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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