Beirut-based Architectural Firm Wins Design Competition for Engineering Complex at AUB  
Trustee Philip Khoury Named MIT Associate Provost  
AUB and UAE Center Sign Agreement to Offer EMBA Program to Emirate Institutions  
Fourth AUB Faculty Seminar on Teaching and Learning with Technology  
New Faculty: Hussein Shahidi  
New Faculty: Kirsten Scheid  
New Faculty: Tima al Jamil  
Office of Grants and Contracts Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day  
Staff Profile: Ghaleb Halimi  
Fifth Annual FEA Student Conference Held  
Engineering Alumni Recognized for Outstanding Achievements  
Studying Biodiversity in Lebanon and the Region at AUB  
Construction Update  
Renovated AUB Archaeological Museum Inaugurated  
Renovated Pediatrics Clinic Opened  
Women's Rights Club Holds Conference on Gender and Sexuality  
Tenth Annual AUB Job Fair Largest Since Its Inception  
Letters from a New Campus by Daniel Bliss  
Winners of the Coca-Cola 'Make Every Word Count' Essay Competition Announced  
AUBMC Research Group Awarded NIH Grant  
Science Students Reveal Bonds Between Chemistry and Art  
Understanding the Political Economy of Islamic Movements  
Extreme Makeover: AUB Graduate Transforms Gulf Television  
Science, Math, and Technology Fair Promotes Environmental Thinking  
School Fair 2006: Prospective AUB Students Visit Campus  
Situation of the Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon  
Remembering the Writer, Khalil Takieddine  
Promotions 2005-2006  
Piano Recital by Arnimée Choukassizian  
Lecture on Space Exploration by World Expert  
Teleconferencing Brings Students Together Across Continents  
"Something Is Happening": Fairuz and Ziad Al Rahbani  
Cultural Genocide and Assyrian Cultural Survival  
Lecture on the History and Origins of American Islamicism  
Business School and Arts and Sciences Team Wins Soccer Championship Match by Narrow Margin  
  Red Cross Club Celebrates its 26th Anniversary at AUB
  History of the American University of Beirut: A New CASAR Course
  First Stereo-photography Exhibit at AUB  
  Photo Exhibition by President John Waterbury  
  The Cats of Renée Deek: End-of-Year Theater Workshop Performance  
  Film on Euthanasia-A True Story  
  Part Two of the CVSP Forum  
  Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said  
  Mozart and Schumann Celebrated at Assembly Hall  
  Austrian Chamber Music Duo Performs at AUB  
  Mathematician Alain Connes Visits AUB  
  Rima Khcheich Concert Plays to Sold-out Crowds at Assembly Hall
  Women's Auxiliary  
  33rd Annual Folk Dance Festival Hosts 20 Performing Schools  
June 2006 Vol. 7 No. 8

Lecture on Space Exploration by World Expert

Charles Elachi (right) with Dean George Najjar

He has an asteroid named after him, received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the American Aeronautical Space Award, and was elected in 1992 to the National Academy of Engineering. He is no other than the renowned space expert, Charles Elachi, who lectured to the AUB community on May 24 in West Hall. His talk was entitled "Excitement and Challenges of Space Exploration."

Born and raised in Lebanon's Beqa'a Valley, Elachi is the holder of various degrees in physics, engineering, and geology, with a PhD in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology. During the past thirty years as director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, he played the lead role in developing the field of spaceborne imaging radar. He has produced more than 230 publications in the field of space and planetary exploration.

According to Elachi, advances in space exploration today are mind-boggling; right now there are 18 space crafts and five instruments floating across the solar system. What is also mind-boggling, he said, is that there is life only on planet Earth. Displaying images of Mars and Earth, he showed that they are dramatically different, but share many similar features. Some of the similarities: they both have polar caps; Mars also has a Grand Canyon, twice as deep as the one in Colorado; volcanic activity is also prevalent on Mars, with a volcano twice the size of Everest. There are also drainage channels on Mars, which means that water might have once existed in liquid form. This raises the question: did life once exist on Mars?

Elachi also showed a video, titled "Mars Exploration Rovers Landing," which exhibited simulations of Rovers that had been released onto the surface of Mars in 2003. (Rovers are machines/robots programmed and operated from Earth to examine and analyze rock composition). A second video, "Tribulations of Testing," featured testing the Rover landing system, in which Rover landings were simulated in vacuum chambers.

According to Dr. Elachi, signals sent by the Rovers from Mars take ten minutes to reach Earth. Some of the information received gave evidence of sedimentary rock formation, and chemical analysis showed that most of the rocks had water crystals embedded in them. Scientists concluded that water must have existed on Mars three to four billion years ago.

Elachi also reported on NASA's plans to launch two future Mars spacecraft missions: the Phoenix Polar Lander in 2007 and the Mars Science Laboratory Rover in 2009.

Another exciting feature of the lecture dealt with Titan, the moon of Saturn, which Elachi explained is the only satellite in the solar system with an atmosphere of the same density as that of Earth. But it is very cold, he said, with a temperature of absolute zero. Interestingly, evidence shows that it rains on Titan and that there are rivers and geysers under the surface, but the liquid is not water; instead, it is oil.

Asked whether he believed in God, Dr. Elachi replied that science and God are separate, adding that he tries to separate science fiction from science fact. Until there is proof, he remains skeptical about flying saucers.