Kerala man in charge of NASA Mars Orbiter Project

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has a new project manager: Phil Varghese,  a native of Kerala, India.He came to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1971 to study physics, earned his doctorate at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., and then worked with computer and aerospace companies. He began his work at JPL as an engineer on NASA's Mars Observer Project and has managed another veteran NASA Mars mission - the Mars Odyssey orbiter - since 2004. Varghese has worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., since 1989.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been examining Mars with six advanced instruments since 2006. It has returned more data than the total from all other NASA missions that have flown farther than the moon.

Mars Odyssey began orbiting Mars in 2001 and is the longest-active spacecraft studying the Red Planet. Varghese previously managed the Deep Space 1 technology demonstration mission, which flew past asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly using solar-powered ion propulsion.

JPL's Jim Erickson managed the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project from December 2006 to February 2010, succeeding the project's original manager, Jim Graf. Erickson now manages JPL's Deep Space Network and Mission Service Planning and Management Program. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Manager Dan Johnston served as acting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager for the past four months.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey for NASA.

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