Dr. Charles Elachi is Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology. From 2001 to 2016 he was the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Vice President of California Institute of Technology. During his 15-year tenure, he oversaw the development and operations of over 45 flight missions and instruments.
During his 16-year tenure as JPL Director; JPL launched 24 mission: 2001-Genesis; 2001-Jason 1; 2001-Mars Odyssey; 2002-GRACE; 2003-GALEX; 2003-Opportunity; 2003-Spirit; 2003-Spitzer Space Telescope; 2005-Deep Impact; 2005-Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; 2006-Cloudsat; 2007-Dawn; 2007-Phoenix; 2008-Jason 2; 2009-Kepler; 2009-NEOWISE; 2011-Aquarius; 2011-Curiosity; 2011-GRAIL; 2011-Juno; 2012-NuStar; 2014-OCO-2; 2015-SMAP; 2016-Jason 3.
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), the Cassini Titan Radar (Team Leader) and a Co-Investigator on the Europa Sounding Radar. 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.
He is the Chair of the St. Exupery Innovation Council in Toulouse France, Member of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency International Advisory Council, a member of the Commission on DOE National Laboratories, a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, the past chair and current member of the UCLA Sciences Board of Visitors, a past member of the Huntington Hospital Board of Trustees in Pasadena, the past chair and member of the Lebanese American University Board of Trustees New York and Beirut, a member of the International Advisory Board of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Saudi Arabia, a past member of the International Advisory Council of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia and a member of the International Advisory Board of the University Oman. He was a member of the University of Arizona Engineering School Advisory Committee and the Boston University Center of Remote Sensing Advisory Council.
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, 2016 IAF Allen D. Emil Memorial Award, American University of Beirut Honorary Doctorate (2013), Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Congress Crystal Helmet Award (2012), the Pasadena Arts Council Inaugural AxS (Arts & Sciences) Award (2012), the 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 the 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 Exceptional Service Medal (2005), the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2004, 2002, 1994), the Takeda Award (2002), the Wernher Von Braun Award (2002), the UCLA Department of Earth and Space Science Distinguished Alumni Award (2002), Dryden Award (2000), the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1999), the COSPAR Nordberg Medal (1996), the Nevada Medal (1995), the IEEE Medal of Engineering Excellence (1992), the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Distinguished Achievement Award (1987), the W.T. Pecora Award (1985), the NASA Exceptional Scientific Medal (1982) and the ASP Autometric Award (1982, 1980).
In 1988 the L.A. 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.