Past Newsletters


Dr. George Helou


Dr George Helou, Executive Director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center and a member of the faculty in the Physics, Math and Astronomy Division at Caltech, Pasadena, CA. He is also a Director of NASA Herschel Science Center and Deputy Director of the Spitzer Science Center. Dr. Helou was recently a guest at the House of Lebanon gathering.  In addition, Dr. Helou is also involved in other projects to help Lebanon improve its research and technology.

Article below from http://www.ipac.caltech.edu/Main/files/GHelou-onepage1.pdf

Dr. George Helou is the Executive Director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, and a member of the faculty in the Physics, Math and Astronomy Division, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA. He is also Director of the NASA Herschel Science Center, and Deputy Director of the Spitzer Science Center. He divides his time between research in astrophysics and administration of science operations of NASA astronomy missions.

George was born and educated in Lebanon, graduating in 1975 from the American University of Beirut with a B.S. in Physics with High Distinction and a Teaching Diploma in Science Education. He obtained a M.Sc. in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and Radio Science in 1980 from Cornell University. He held appointments at the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory and at Cornell University before joining Caltech in 1983. He has published over two hundred articles in professional journals and proceedings, lectured at over forty international conferences, and held visiting positions at several European Universities including Paris, Leiden and Florence.

He has been closely associated scientifically with the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS, 1983, USA/UK/Netherlands), the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO, 1995-98, European Space Agency), and currently of the Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared astronomy mission launched by NASA in August 2003. His awards include the NASA Public Service Medal (2004), the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (2001), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1992), the Dudley Award (1982), the Arcetri International Fellowship (1980) and the Philip K. Hitti Prize for Academic Excellence (1975). He is a member of the American Astronomical Society and of the International Astronomical Union.

George's research centers on understanding galaxies, in particular how they turn gas and dust into
stars, and how the first generation of stars and galaxies came about and evolved into today's Universe. He has used for his research some of the largest and most advanced telescopes in the world, including the Arecibo 300 meter radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the Very Large Array radio telescope in Socorro, New Mexico, the Hale 200 inch telescope on Palomar Mountain, the Keck 10 meter telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, in addition to the space observatories mentioned above.

Below article from this link More information at: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/features/p_georgehelou.shtml


Like many astronomers, I was captivated by the stars at a tender age. Over the mountains of Lebanon the skies were dark, the stars intense, and the Milky Way mesmerizing. The fascination slowly turned into a career path as Math and Physics became increasingly fun topics, books promised infinite vistas of discovery, and college at the American University of Beirut brought me into modern physics and closer to graduate school. Twenty-eight years almost to the day before the launch of SIRTF, I arrived in the U.S. to study for a Ph.D. in astronomy at Cornell University. Cornell was an exciting place, with a lot going on, from radio astronomy to the Viking landings. I enjoyed being around all this, and tried to get involved in as many things as possible. But even though I worked with Carl Sagan one summer, I did not see space science as a serious career option.

I got started in infrared space astronomy in 1983, twenty years again almost to the day, before the launch of SIRTF. Recruited by Tom Soifer and encouraged by Jim Houck, I joined the IRAS (InfraRed Astronomical Satellite) mission team, who were making history with the first major mission to map the infrared sky from space. The team was so flooded with data that they took me in even though I had virtually no experience in infrared astronomy. The infrared sky as it was being revealed by IRAS fascinated me, and has continued to amaze me with each new revelation.

The IRAS mission lasted ten months, but it generated enough data to keep astronomers busy through the eighties. The nineties were the decade of ISO (the Infrared Space Observatory), a European mission with NASA participation. I served on the ISO Science Team and learned a lot about space observatories, worked on loads of ISO data, and learned even more about galaxies. Galaxies have always been at the center of my research interests, challenging me to understand their complex properties, and figure out what makes them tick, how they come about and how they evolve. A rich and intricate portrait of galaxies emerged from IRAS and ISO data, a portrait one could not imagine by looking at the visible images. SIRTF will add more detail to this portrait, answer many questions and pose others, and inspire the next round of infrared missions.

SIRTF was in the works for at least two decades, but it was only in 1996 that I joined the team working to make it a reality. I helped mostly by designing the science operations, figuring out how to translate the scientific questions into observing activities, how to inform the observers and help them use SIRTF in the best way, how to take the raw data from the instruments and turn them into scientifically meaningful data for astronomers, and how to organize the science center and its interactions with other parts of the SIRTF project and with researchers worldwide. Since 1999 I have served as the Executive Director of IPAC (Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) in addition to my duties as Deputy Director of the SIRTF Science Center and a member of the faculty at Caltech.

Today I feel fortunate to participate in this heady mixture of technology, imagination, excellence and team work, all fueled by a most basic human drive, curiosity about our world. Above the atmosphere the sky is cold, the galaxies infrared-bright, and the soft glow of the distant universe mesmerizing.



























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