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Trailblazing Dr. Japie van Zyl receives highest honour

Trailblazing Dr. Japie van Zyl receives highest honour

Niël Terblanché

Young Namibians were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Namibian-born Director of Solar System Exploration, Dr. Japie van Zyl, who received prestigious award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States of America for his trail blazing work space science over the past 33 years.
President Hage Geingob congratulated Dr. van Zyl and said the prestigious Outstanding Public Service Medal Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) places the scientist in the same league as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who were also honoured with the award for their participation in the successful moon landing 50 years ago.

Pictured: Dr. Japie van Zyl with Prof. Tjama Tjivikua before the start of the Public Lecture at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in May last year. – Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy Namibia

“I congratulate Namibian-born scientist Dr. Japie van Zyl for the award of NASA’s Outstanding Public Service Medal, joining a select group of people that includes Neil Armstrong. Your exemplary work and experience will continue to inspire new discoveries in space science and technology,” Dr. Geingob said about the achievement.
Dr. van Zyl received the medal for his distinguished service and leadership over a long career contributing to a multitude of successful NASA missions and the development of new instruments.
Dr. van Zyl distinguished himself by the significant contributions he made to NASA during his 33-year career while simultaneously achieving world renown for his research in radar polarimetric scattering and image analysis. He distinguished himself as an outstanding leader, resulting in his appointment to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Executive Council.
His development of imaging radar polarimetry led to the world’s most advanced multifrequency polarimetric airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and interferometric topographic SAR system.
In his career Dr. van Zyl also managed the operations of all JPL Earth Science missions and instrument developed for other NASA Centers and international space agencies.
In recent years, he has defined, formulated, acquired, and implemented all missions in the solar system except Mars. He consistently delivered successful missions that produced trailblazing results.
President Geingob lauded the cutting-edge and exemplary work of Dr. van Zyl in space science and encouraged young Namibian scientists to follow in his footsteps.

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