Gentry Lee is Chief Engineer for the Solar System Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In that position Mr. Lee is responsible for the engineering integrity of all the robotic planetary missions managed by JPL for NASA. His major recent work includes the engineering oversight of the Curiosity rover to Mars, the Dawn mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, the Juno mission to Jupiter and the GRAIL missions to the Moon. Previously, Gentry Lee provided guidance and oversight for the engineering aspects of the Phoenix and twin rover missions to Mars, as well as NASA’s successful Deep Impact and Stardust missions.
Mr. Lee was Chief Engineer for the Galileo project from 1977-1988 and, after working in a variety of positions on the Viking project from 1968-1976, was Director of Science Analysis and Mission Planning during the Viking operations. The historic Viking mission was mankind’s first successful landing on another planet. The Galileo mission explored Jupiter with both an atmospheric probe and an orbiter that mapped the major Jovian satellites during a decade of operations.
In addition to his engineering work, Gentry Lee has been an active novelist, television producer, computer game designer, media columnist, lecturer, and, more recently, a television performer/narrator. Between 1989 and 1994 Mr. Lee co-authored four novels, Cradle, Rama II, The Garden of Ramaand Rama Revealed, with revered science fiction grandmaster Arthur C. Clarke. All four books were New York Times bestsellers. Since his collaboration with Mr. Clarke, Gentry Lee has written more successful solo novels, Bright Messengers, Double Full Moon Night and The Tranquility Wars.
From 1976 until 1981 Mr. Lee was the late Carl Sagan’s partner in the creation, design, development and implementation of Cosmos, the highly successful science documentary series for television that won several Emmy’s and the prestigious Peabody Award. In July 2009, Gentry Lee was the featured performer/narrator in Are We Alone? a two hour Discovery Channel documentary about life in the solar system.
Mr. Lee received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1976 and the Distinguished Service Medal (NASA’s highest award) in 2005. In October 2006 he received the prestigious Harold Masursky Award from the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences for his career contributions to planetary exploration.
Gentry Lee received a B.A., Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963 and an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. Gentry Lee has eight sons.