Charles Elachi has been the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May, 2001. Professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science at Caltech. Dr. Elachi received his B.Sc. (’68) in physics from University of Grenoble, France; the Dipl. Ing. (’68) in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble, and both a M.Sc. (’69) and Ph.D. (’71) degree in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology. He also has a M.Sc. (‘83) degree in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA (’79) from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Elachi joined JPL in 1970. Prior to becoming Director, Dr. Elachi was JPL’s Director for Space and Earth Science Programs (beginning in 1982) where he was responsible for the development of numerous flight missions and instruments for Earth observation, planetary exploration and astrophysics.
He has been a principal investigator on a number of NASA-sponsored studies and flight projects including the Shuttle Imaging Radar series (Science Team Leader), the Magellan Imaging Radar (Team Member), and the Cassini Titan Radar (Team Leader). He is the author of over 230 publications in the fields of active microwave remote sensing and electromagnetic theory, and he holds several patents in those fields.
In 1989 Dr. Elachi was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and has served on a number of academy committees. Dr. Elachi has received numerous awards, including the Aviation Week Lifetime Achievement Award (2016), 2016 National Space Trophy, an American University of Beirut Honorary Doctorate (2013), the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Congress Crystal Helmet Award (2012), the Pasadena Arts Council Inaugural AxS (Arts & Sciences) Award (2012), Lebanese American University Honorary Doctorate (2012), National Academy of Engineering Arthur M. Bueche Award (2011), “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France” (2011), Space Foundation J.E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award (2011), AIAA Carl Sagan Award (2011), Occidental College honorary Doctor of Science degree (2011), Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement (2008), International von Kármán Wings Award (2007), the America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2006), the Royal Society of London Massey Award (2006), the Lebanon Order of Cedars (2006 and 2012), the Philip Habib Award for Distinguished Public Service (2006), the American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award (2005), the Bob Hope Distinguished Citizen Award (2005), NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2004, 2002, 1994), Takeda Award (2002), the Wernher von Braun Award (2002), UCLA Dept. of Earth and Science Distinguished Alumni Award (2002), Dryden Award (2000), NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1999), the COSPAR Nordberg Medal (1996), the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1994), the IEEE Medal of Engineering Excellence (1992), the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Distinguished Achievement Award (1987) and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1982).