B. Gentry Lee is chief engineer for the Solar System Exploration Directorate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In that position, Lee is responsible for the engineering integrity of all the robotic planetary missions managed by JPL for NASA. His major recent work includes the engineering oversight of the fantastically successful and popular Curiosity rover mission to Mars in August 2012, the Dawn mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, the Juno mission to Jupiter and the GRAIL missions to the Moon. Previously, Lee provided guidance and oversight for the engineering aspects of the Phoenix and twin rover missions to Mars, as well as NASA’s successful Deep Impact and Stardust missions.
Lee was chief engineer for the Galileo project from 1977-1988 and, after working in a variety of positions on the Viking project from 1968-76, was Director of Science Analysis and Mission Planning during the Viking operations. The historic Viking mission was mankind’s first successful landing on another planet.
From 1976 until 1981, Lee was the late Carl Sagan’s partner in the creation, design, development and implementation of Cosmos, the highly successful science documentary series for television that won several Emmys and the prestigious Peabody Award. In July 2009, Gentry Lee was the featured performer/narrator in Are We Alone?, a two-hour Discovery Channel documentary about life in the solar system.
In addition to his engineering work, Gentry Lee is a successful science fiction novelist, a futurist, a computer product designer, media columnist, lecturer and a television performer/narrator. Between 1989 and 1994, he co-authored four novels, Cradle, Rama II, The Garden of Rama and Rama Revealed, with revered science fiction grandmaster Arthur C. Clarke. All four books were New York Times bestsellers and were translated into over twenty-five languages. Since his collaboration with Clarke, Gentry Lee has written three more successful solo novels, Bright Messengers, Double Full Moon Night and The Tranquility Wars.
Lee received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1976 and the Distinguished Service Medal (NASA’s highest award) in 2005. In October 2006, he received the prestigious Harold Masursky Award from the American Astronomical Society and in June 2014 he received the Al Seiff Memorial Award, both for his contributions to planetary exploration. In 2013, Lee was awarded the prestigious Simon Ramo Medal by the IEEE for “career excellence in engineering.”
Gentry Lee received a BA, summa cum laude, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1963 and an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. Lee has been giving lectures all over the world on subjects related to the future, space, and science and technology. His informative speeches touch upon the topics of extraterrestrials, the exploration of the planets and the critical importance of science literacy.