Michael Watkins, director of the center for space research at the University of Texas in Austin, has been appointed as the new director ofÂ NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“Dr. Watkins is no stranger to the NASA family,”Â NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said inÂ a statementÂ issued Tuesday.
Watkins has worked withÂ JPL for more than 20 years aiding the Mars Curiosity Rover, Cassini, Mars Odyssey, GRAIL and GRACEÂ missions.
“I am confident that he will do an excellent job as he begins a new chapter in the incredible legacy that [California Institute of Technology] and NASA have written together through JPL for generations,” Bolden said.
Watkins, whoÂ also serves as theÂ Clare Cockrell Williams CentennialÂ chair in engineering at UT Austin, will succeed the retiring Charles Elachi.
NASA JPLÂ currently handlesÂ spacecraft, rovers/landers, instruments, airborne/ground and technology demonstration missions including the Jason 3, Disturbance Reduction System, Soil Moisture Active Passive, ISS-RapidScat and Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2.
Caltech manages JPLÂ for NASA.