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Contact: Mary Beth Murrill


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

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.