NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Dr. Charles Elachi, a pioneer in the development and use of spaceborne imaging radar for scientific studies of Earth and other planets, has been awarded the 2000 Dryden Lectureship in Research by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in recognition of the importance of his research to the advancement of aeronautics and astronautics.

Elachi, director of space and Earth science programs at JPL, Pasadena, Calif., received the Dryden award on Jan. 10 at the AIAA's 38th Aerospace Sciences Meeting at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nevada. His lecture on "Space Imaging Radar in Planetary Exploration and Earth Observation" described the variety of scientific studies made possible with spaceborne imaging radar, and provided an overview of present and future potential applications for imaging radar technology.

In the past 20 years, imaging radar systems flown on satellites and on the Space Shuttle have produced a wealth of findings in a wide variety of disciplines from the discovery of the ancient "lost city" of Ubar in Oman, to studies in fields such as urban planning, geophysics, marine biology, volcanology and deforestation. Imaging radar, also called synthetic aperture radar, is a powerful observing tool because it does not require sunlight to illuminate its target, and it can "see" through cloud cover, snow and darkness to conduct studies of Earth's surface and near-surface features.

Elachi was the first to employ the Space Shuttle as a platform for imaging radar studies as the principal investigator of the Shuttle Imaging Radar-A. That successful system has been followed up with increasingly sophisticated versions of the instrument. This winter, the Space Shuttle will fly yet another JPL-developed imaging radar system, called the Shuttle Radar Technology Mission, to produce a high resolution, 3-D map of up to 80 percent of the Earth's land mass and create the most complete map ever assembled.

The Titan radar system on the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft will be used to reveal surface features of Saturn's largest moon. Titan is shrouded by a smoglike haze that prevents views of its surface. Elachi is the principal investigator of the experiment.

Elachi is the author of 200 publications and holds four patents in the fields of interpretation of active microwave remote-sensing data, wave propagation and scattering, electromagnetic theory, lasers and integrated optics.

A member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Elachi is the recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and the agency's Scientific Achievement Medal, among numerous other honors. He earned his bachelor of science degree in physics at the University of Grenoble and Institute Polytechnique in France in 1968, a master's degree and Ph.D in electrical sciences in 1969 and 1971, respectively, from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., received a master's in business administration from the University of Southern California in 1978, and received a master's degree in geology at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1983.

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Mary Beth Murrill