When you see one of those amazing images of the Earth
from space, sand sweeping through miles of the Sahara desert,
or the massive swirl of a hurricane winding up to move inland,
odds are Kamlesh “Kam” Lulla had something to do with it.

Lulla is chief scientist for Earth observation in the Human
Exploration Science Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
(JSC) in Houston. He directs Earth observation science
activities for Space Shuttle flights and the International
Space Station. Lulla’s Earth Observation group at JSC trains
astronauts and cosmonauts in the scientific observation of
Earth’s environmental, geological, oceanographic and
meteorological phenomena.

“One of NASA’s missions is to understand and protect our home
planet, and my job directly ties to that,” Lulla said. “Space
photography is an important tool in our mission to improve
life on Earth. For example, photographs taken by astronauts,
in tandem with satellite imagery, have enabled us to conduct
research on how to monitor smoke over the Amazon region,
detect how it affects regional climate patterns and the lives
of the people who live there,” he added.

Growing up in Baroda, India, Lulla was sparked to a career in
space science after hearing the 1969 Voice of America radio
broadcast of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and Neil Armstrong’s
historic first steps on the moon.

Lulla attended the M.S. University of Baroda, where he earned
two bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry in 1968
and1969 and master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental
science and ecology in 1972 and 1976, respectively. While
working on his doctoral dissertation in India, Lulla came
across Earth images from NASA. This emerging field of science
called “Remote Sensing” intrigued him. Remote sensing captures
images from space through digital and photographic technology.

“Space provides such a unique perspective of Earth,” Lulla
said. “We need to explore our own planet to scientifically
understand Earth’s processes, in order to better appreciate
the complexity of our home planet,” he remarked.

His first trip to the United States was in 1978 through an
opportunity from Rotary International, a volunteer
organization that sponsored visits. Following the trip, Lulla
decided to make a new start and pursue a career in Earth
remote sensing in the United States.

Lulla served as a senior professor and director of the Indiana
State University Remote Sensing Research Center in Terre
Haute, Ind. He was involved in several NASA sponsored remote-
sensing projects there. He joined JSC in 1988, as senior lead
scientist for Earth observations for Shuttle flights and
became Chief of the Earth Sciences Branch in 1994.

Lulla’s research has resulted in numerous scientific papers
and four coauthored books. His accomplishments have been
recognized by scientific and professional societies. He
received the Remote Sensing medal from the Association of
American Geographers and Presidential Citation from the
American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Lulla maintains strong ties to his Indian heritage. He can
converse fluently in seven of India’s 14 major languages. The
India Cultural Center of Houston, which promotes Indian
culture and diversity, recognized him with the Outstanding
Professional Achievement Award in 1990 and the Cultural
Festival of India Award in 1991. Following the Space Shuttle
Columbia tragedy in February, Lulla participated in a Voice of
America program where people from all over the world called to
express sympathy. Lulla volunteered to talk to Indian callers
in Hindi, the national language of India.

“Photographs taken by astronauts are inspiring to students and
people all over the world, because they allow you to share in
the astronauts’ space experience, and see your own back yard
from space,” Lulla said. “Those remote Earth images connect us
all to space exploration,” he added.

For Information about NASA on the Internet, visit:


To view NASA’s collection of astronaut photography on the
Internet, visit:


Media organizations interested in interviewing Lulla should
contact John Ira Petty, JSC Public Affairs Office, at: