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New Jersey Institute of Technology Space Explorer Louis Lanzerotti Heads Committee To Study Hubble’s Fate

The National Academies in Washington has appointed Louis J. Lanzerotti, PhD, a prominent New Jersey-based physicist and member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, chair of a newly-formed 20-person, blue-ribbon panel to study  whether or not to prolong the mission of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).  Two Nobel Laureates and three former astronauts will also serve on the distinguished committee.


“I see serving on the committee as a very stimulating activity and very important for our nation’s space science and research program,” said Lanzerotti.


Under Lanzerotti’s direction, the panel will eventually issue a study that is being called for now  the “Committee on Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope.”  The study is to be completed under the auspices of the Academies’ Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. 


The committee came about because several months ago, NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe announced that, on the basis of safety considerations, a planned servicing mission to upgrade parts of the  Hubble would not be flown.  Scientists and others protested.  O’Keefe asked retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., who chaired the Columbia accident commission, to review the options.  Gehman called for a review by an independent and distinguished committee named by the Academies. 


Lanzerotti is a member of the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research, which operates out of NJIT’s main campus, in Newark, as well as at Big Bear Solar Observatory, in Big Bear Lake, Calif.   California Institute of Technology transferred management of the well-known solar observatory in 1997 to NJIT. 

Lanzerotti is also a consulting physicist to Bell Laboratories-Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill.   NASA has twice recognized Lanzerotti’s contributions to science with the agency’s Distinguished Scientific Achievement Medal; he has also received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.


The American Geophysical Union named Lanzerotti in February of 2003 editor of Space Weather:  The International Journal of Research and Applications.  This new journal is the first of its kind devoted to the emerging field of space weather and its impact on technical systems, including telecommunications, electric power and navigation. 


Lanzerotti’s work at NJIT continues to investigate many unanswered questions about the sun and its effects on the earth’s space environment. Over a career spanning four decades, he has contributed to research that includes studies of space plasmas and geophysics, and engineering problems related to the impact of space processes on terrestrial technologies, as well as those used in space. 


Lanzerotti is also known in science circles for having a planet named after him and a mount in the Antarctic.   Minor Planet 5504 Lanzerotti is named in recognition of his space and planetary research, and Mount Lanzerotti (74.83° S, 70.55° W) recognizes his geophysical research.


Lanzerotti holds a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Illinois and masters and doctoral degrees in physics from Harvard University.


He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has authored more than 500-refereed publications, is co-author or co-editor of three books and has seven issued or filed patents.  Lanzerotti, who recently served as the chairman of the National Research Council’s Decadal Survey Committee on Solar and Space Physics, currently serves on the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics.


Lanzerotti has served, or is serving, on the boards of numerous national and international organizations. These include past chairman, Space Studies Board of the National Research Council; current chairman, Fachbeirat, Max Planck Institute for Aeronomy; past vice president, Committee on Space Research (COSPAR); member, the American Physical Society’s Committee on Public Affairs; chairman, Committee on Public Affairs of the American Geophysical Union; member, Governing Board and Executive Committee, American Institute of Physics; chair, Advisory Committee, Physics Today.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.