Charles Elachi became the Director of JPL in May 2001. He has been a JPL scientist for more than 30 years, specializing in remote sensing.
Elachi was born April 18, 1947, in Lebanon. In 1968, he received both a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Grenoble, France, and a degree in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble. By 1971 he earned a master's degree and doctorate in electrical sciences from Caltech. He also earned a master's in business administration from USC in 1978 and a master's in geology from UCLA in 1983.
Elachi is well known for his role in the development of a series of imaging radar systems for the Space Shuttle that allowed scientists to see through clouds that blanket Earth. He served as principal investigator on numerous NASA research and development studies and flight projects. He is currently team leader of the Cassini Titan radar experiment and a co-investigator on the Rosetta comet nucleus sounder experiment.
Elachi has participated in a number of archaeological expeditions in the Egyptian Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Western Chinese Desert in search of old trading routes and buried cities using data from satellites and shuttle-based radar. Some of these expeditions have been featured in National Geographic magazine. In 1988, the Los Angeles Times selected him as one of "Southern California's rising stars who will make a difference in L.A." In 1989, Asteroid 1982 SU was renamed 4116 Elachi in recognition of his contribution to planetary exploration.