Byron D. Tapley

Byron Tapley

B.S. E.M. 1956; M.S. E.M. 1958; Ph.D. 1960;
Professor, Aerospace Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

After earning three degrees at UT Austin, Dr. Tapley joined UT's aerospace engineering faculty in 1960, establishing the orbit mechanics program in the department in 1961. He served as the chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from 1966 to 1977. In 1981, he established the Center for Space Research. During the next decade, he developed the orbit mechanics program and the Center for Space Research into internationally respected centers for study and research.

Dr. Tapley's research interests include orbit mechanics, nonlinear parameter estimation, and their uses in satellite measurements to study geodesy, geodynamics and oceanography. He has been a principal investigator for six NASA missions. He is currently in charge of a NASA project teaming up UT Austin researchers with German researchers in a satellite mission to be launched from Russia in 2001. The $125 million Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment will use highly accurate measurements between two satellites to sense variations in the Earth's gravity field. Results are expected to have many implications for weather study and a variety of environmental issues, including improved long-range climate forecasts and a new perspective on global ocean circulation.

Dr. Tapley has been very active in professional organizations, including the National Research Council, chairing the Geodesy Committee (1982-85), the Committee on Earth Sciences (1987-91), and the Geophysics Study Committee (1990-93).

His honors include the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1983), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautic Mechanics and Control of Flight Award (1989), the Billy and Claude R. Hocott Distinguished Centennial Engineering Research Award (1991), the NASA Public Service Medal (1994), the AAS Dirk Brouwer Space Mechanics Award (1995), and the Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award (1997).

He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1987, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He is a life member of Friends of Alec.

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