Earth Observation with Spaceborne Radars Earth Observation with Spaceborne Radars


Forty years ago, in November 1981, a team of young JPL scientists and engineers conducted the first experiment ever flown on the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle Imaging Radar-A (SIR-A) imaged large areas of our planet and led to the discovery of a network of ancient paleo rivers in Egypt and North Africa.

The SIR-A was followed by a series of progressively more advanced imaging radar systems (SIR-B, SIR-C and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission), conducted by the same team, that demonstrated the scientific benefit of multispectral and interferometric systems in mapping and monitoring our planet. They formed the technical foundations for the dozen of international and commercial free flying radars presently orbiting Earth as well as the radar systems that mapped Venus and Titan.

This talk, given by the leader of that team, will cover the history of how this team conceived and accomplished these advances that dramatically expanded our ability to map and monitor the changes on our planet.

Speaker's Biography:

Dr. Charles Elachi is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science, Emeritus, at Caltech and was previously the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Vice President of Caltech from 2001-2016.

Throughout his long and distinguished career at JPL, he played the lead role in developing the field of spaceborne imaging radar which led to Seasat, SIR-A, SIR-B, SIR-C, Magellan, SRTM and the Cassini Radar. He received numerous national and international awards for his leadership in this field.

He is the author of over 230 publications in the fields of space and planetary exploration, Earth observation from space, active microwave remote sensing, electromagnetic theory and integrated optics, and he holds several patents in those fields. In addition, he has authored three textbooks in the field of remote sensing. One of these textbooks has been translated into Chinese.

Elachi received a B.S. in physics from the University of Grenoble, France and the Diplome Ingenieur in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble in 1968 where he graduated first in the class, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical sciences from Caltech in 1969 and 1971, respectively. He later received an MBA from USC (1979) and an M.S. degree in geology from UCLA (1983).