Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Glimpse of Farouk El-Baz: Mastermind behind Apollo moon-landing

Fri 14 Sep 2018 | 07:52 AM
Taarek Refaat

CAIRO, Sept 14(SEE)- Farouk El-Baz is NASA's mastermind who helped identify the ideal moon-landing site for the Apollo 11 in 1969.

He began his journey to the United States in 1966 after receiving a grant to complete his post-graduate studies from the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy. El-Baz sent applications to several corporations until NASA contacted him to join its geological team.

[caption id="attachment_13924" align="alignright" width="247"] El-Baz training Ronald Evans and      Robert Overmyer[/caption]

 He spent three months analyzing more than 4,300 images of the moon until he discovered 16 different places suitable for landing on its surface.

His mission was to illustrate the geology of the moon to the Apollo team astronauts; guide the collecting process of required samples and Investigate visual observations and photography.

Apollo astronauts appreciated his teaching skills. Command Pilot Alfred Worden said, "After Farouk's training, I feel like I've been here before," while orbiting the Moon for the first time.

During the years 1967-1972, El-Baz was the Supervisor of Lunar Science Planning at Bellcomm Inc. that carried systems analysis for NASA.

[caption id="attachment_13921" align="alignright" width="239"] A shuttle craft named El-Baz       soared through Star Trek TV         program[/caption]

He entered history from its widest door after the success of the Apollo program. His name remained the concern of both press and media at the time.

He was the Principal Investigator of the Earth Observations and Photography Experiment of the project Apollo Suez 1975, which was designed to portray deserts around the world, especially in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

In 1979, El-Baz organized the first trip by US scientists to the deserts of northwestern China, which lasted six weeks. He noticed that these trips are a waste of time hence he analyzed the satellite images of deserts in a more detailed process using the technique of Remote Sensing.

He used the method in screening the Western Desert of Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, and India. One of his most prominent discoveries is negating the mistaken belief that deserts are man-made. El-Baz discovered that deserts arose and developed as a result of global climate change and that under these sandy deserts, groundwater exists.

[caption id="attachment_13919" align="alignright" width="255"] El-Baz, wearing a mask, gives a photography mission briefing in advance of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975[/caption]

El-Baz was Vice President of Science and Technology at Itek Optical Systems From 1982-1986. He supervised the application of the wide-angle camera on the space shuttle. This advanced imaging system served considerably in the study of desert from space.

In 1991, He led a team of scientists in his quest to uncover the groundwater in the entire Persian Gulf, in addition to his successful discovery of ground water in the Egyptian Western Desert.

El-Baz is an active member of nearly 40 scientific institutions and has published more than 200 scientific researches. He authored 12 books, including Apollo over the Moon, Deserts and Arid Lands, The Gulf War and the Environment, Wadis Of Oman: Satellite Image Atlas, Egypt as seen by Landsat.

He received nearly 31 awards, including NASA’s Apollo Achievement Award, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, the First Class Merit Award, and Special Recognition Award. The Geological Society of America has established an annual prize in his name called the Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research.