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Elected in 2009

“For leadership in determining the structure and composition of
the Earth’s atmosphere from space observations.”


MOUSTAFA T. CHAHINE, a senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and an international leader in atmospheric remote sensing from satellite observations, died on March 23, 2011, at the age of 76.

Affectionately known as Mous to hundreds of friends and colleagues, Moustafa was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on January 1, 1935. After growing up in Lebanon, he moved to the United States in December 1954 and proceeded to power through his academic studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1956 and a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1957. He then entered the University of California at Berkeley as a doctoral candidate and received his Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering in 1960. His studies centered largely on fluid physics.

It was while in graduate school in 1957 that Mous saw a photograph of JPL Director William Pickering with Wernher von Braun and James Van Allen, holding aloft a model of the just-launched Explorer 1 satellite, the story of which stirred his interest sufficiently that he resolved that he too would work in the space program. Three years later, after graduation,

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