Dr. Ian Clark was recognized for his exceptional leadership in developing new landing technologies for future space exploration.
You can’t explore Mars without landing safely on it first. The methods currently used have been around for over forty years, so NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerators (LDSD) team has been working to develop state-ofthe-art technologies that will be used in future Mars landing missions. Leading this team is principal investigator and TIP alumnus Dr. Ian Clark. Clark is an engineer in the EDL Systems and Advanced Technologies Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a specialist in the area of planetary entry, descent, and landing (EDL). Clark has been working with his team to test supersonic parachute capabilities so that heavier vessels carrying exploration teams and vehicles can land safely on Mars.
Three summers of Clark’s youth were spent at TIP, where he first explored outer space with an astronomy class. He then went on to graduate with honors from Irmo High School in South Carolina. He was the only person in his year to have a perfect SAT score. Georgia Institute of Technology remains his only alma mater, where, in addition to his undergraduate degree, he earned a master of science and PhD in aerospace engineering.
Prior to his work at NASA, Clark served as a visiting assistant professor at Georgia Tech, where he advised and managed the EDL research group. He was recently recognized by President Obama with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Clark is also a recipient of the JPL Lew Allen Award, the JPL Explorer Award, and NASA’s Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal.