Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Charles Elachi


5th William Gould Dow Distinguished Lecture

“Space Exploration in the Next Decade:
Challenges and Opportunities”

Charles Elachi, PhD
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Director
California Institute of Technology, Vice President

Abstract
Space exploration is at the dawn of a renewed golden era. More planetary missions will be conducted in this decade than in the previous four decades, ranging from intensive Mars exploration to sample return from numerous bodies. In addition, expanded exploration of our universe will help us to shed light on the origin of the universe and life in it. Dr. Elachi will give an overview of the scientific and engineering challenges in constructing the two recent Mars missions, Spirit and Opportunity, and in developing upcoming missions, and will talk about opportunities for students to be involved in space exploration.

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Charles Elachi received the B.Sc. ('68) in Physics from U. of Grenoble, France; the Dipl. Ing. ('68) in Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble and the M.Sc. ('69) and Ph.D. ('71) degrees in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He also has a M.Sc. ('83) degree in Geology from UCLA, and an MBA ('79) from the U. of Southern California, Los Angeles.

In his 30 year career at JPL, Dr. Elachi played the lead role in developing the field of spaceborne imaging radar from a small research area to a major field of scientific research and application. As a result, JPL and NASA became the world leaders in the field of spaceborne imaging radars, and over the last decade, developed Seasat, SIR-A, SIR-B, SIR-C, Magellan, SRTM and the Cassini Radar.

During the late 80's and 90's, as the Director of Space and Earth Science programs, Dr. Elachi was responsible for the definition and development of JPL flight instruments and missions for Solar System Exploration, the Origins program, Earth Observation and Astrophysics. During this period more than 45 flight missions and instruments were conceived, developed, and flown. In the mid to late 90s. Dr. Elachi chaired a number of national and international committees which developed NASA roadmaps for the exploration of neighboring Solar Systems (1995), our Solar System (1997), and Mars (1998). In January 2001, Dr. Elachi was appointed as the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Vice President of Caltech.

Dr. Elachi has received numerous national and international awards. He is a fellow of IEEE and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.