Former JPL Director
Murray was at the helm of JPL from 1976 to 1982, during a very busy time for planetary exploration - when the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars, and Voyager 1 and 2 were launched and flew by Jupiter and Saturn.
After leaving JPL, Murray was a professor of planetary science and geology at the
As JPL director, Murray faced a rapidly shrinking budget, along with the rest of
Murray salvaged for JPL the Galileo mission to Jupiter, brought the American portion of the joint
"He worked tirelessly to save our nation's planetary exploration capability at a tumultuous time when there was serious consideration for curtailing future missions," said current JPL Director
During Murray's leadership, JPL launched Seasat, one of the earliest Earth-observing satellites; the Solar Mesosphere Explorer, an Earth-orbiting spacecraft that investigated the ozone in Earth's upper atmosphere; and Shuttle Imaging Radar-A, which flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia as the first instrument to image Earth using radar pulses, rather than optical light, as illumination. He gained a substantial expansion of JPL's civil affairs program with a large solar energy research project funded by the
In 1979, Murray joined with the late astronomer
Even before becoming JPL director, Murray's association with JPL and Caltech was longstanding and deep-seated. He was a Caltech geologist and a key member of the Mariner 4 imaging team that captured the first close-up image of Mars in 1964. It was the first of four planetary missions in which he played a vital role as a scientist.
Murray earned a Ph.D. in geology at the
Murray published more than 130 scientific papers and authored or co-authored seven books. After he retired as director in late 1982, Murray returned to Caltech's Geological and Planetary Sciences Division, and was later named an emeritus professor at the campus.
Flags at JPL have been lowered to half staff in honor of Murray.
He is survived by his wife,
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