Dr. Jer Chyi (J.-C.) Liou Is New NASA Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris

Dr. Jer Chyi (J.-C.) Liou Is New NASA Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris

2-minute read
Orbital Debris Quarterly News

This article originally appeared in Orbital Debris Quarterly News, Volume 18, Issue 3, July 2014.

Dr. Jer Chyi (J.-C.) Liou was selected as the NASA Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris in early June, succeeding Mr. Nicholas Johnson who retired in March 2014 (ODQN, April 2014, pp. 2). While the Chief Scientist is officially part of the Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO), he is chartered with representing the integrated orbital debris interests of the Agency, the ODPO, and the hypervelocity impact team (HVIT), serving interactions with outside agencies and organizations for policy development and NASA's strategic plans related to understanding the orbital debris environment, debris mitigation, risk assessments, and spacecraft protection.

Dr. Liou has been a member of the NASA ODPO at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, since 2008. In 1994, Dr. Liou came to NASA JSC as a National Research Council post-doctoral research fellow working with the late Herbert Zook on interplanetary dust, asteroids, and the Kuiper Belt dust disk. He began his orbital debris career as a GB Tech contractor supporting the NASA ODPO in 1997, later serving as the Lockheed Martin project manager for the orbital debris contractor team, and then as the Jacobs/ESCG/ERC section manager for the orbital debris and hypervelocity impact contractor teams prior to joining the NASA ODPO.

Dr. Liou led the development of the NASA Orbital Debris Engineering Model, ORDEM2000, and NASA's LEO to GEO Environment Debris evolutionary model (LEGEND). He has led several key NASA and international studies to investigate the instability of the orbital debris  population in LEO and to quantify the effectiveness of environment remediation options. In addition, Dr. Liou directed the ODPO  development of new technologies for micrometeoroid and orbital debris in-situ impact detection, including the DRAGONS system, and served as the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator of Science Mission Directorate-funded sensor development projects. He is currently the lead for DebriSat, a project employing laboratory- based hypervelocity impact experiments to improve satellite breakup models and space situational awareness.

Dr. Liou has authored approximately 100 technical publications, including more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed journals (Science, Astrophysical Journal, Astronomical Journal, ICARUS, Advances in Space Research, Acta Astronautica, etc.). He was the Technical Editor for the NASA Orbital Debris Quarterly News between 2003 and 2014 and served as the Chief Technologist for the JSC ARES Directorate between 2009 and 2014.

Dr. Liou received several major Lockheed Martin and Jacobs/ESCG/ERC awards in 2002-2006, the NASA astronaut's Silver Snoopy Award in 2003, the JSC Director's Commendation Award in 2011, and the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal in 2012.

Dr. Liou earned a B.S. in Physics from the National Central University in Taiwan, and an M.S. (1991) and Ph.D. (1993) in Astronomy from the University of Florida.