The US Space Agency (NASA) has just awarded the prestigious Medal of Outstanding Service to Moroccan Kamal Oudrhiri, a new consecration that rewards the sustained performance and multiple contributions of this scientist to projects and programs of NASA.
Kamal Oudrhiri, who has some 20 years of service with the Leading Agency for Air and Space Exploration, was also awarded this year’s 5 Team Excellence Awards, which NASA awards in a the importance of collective work for the success of space missions.
He has contributed to various cutting-edge projects such as the Atoms Cooled Laboratory, the Mars InSight Mission, MarCO, Cubesat’s first interplanetary mission, the MAVEN (ROSE) radio-occultation scientific experiment, as well as for the mission. nicknamed “New Horizons Ultima Thule”, the first flyby of the Kuiper Belt (KBO), a distant and hitherto unexplored land more than one billion kilometers from Pluto.
Currently, Mr. Oudrhiri is in charge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Planetary Radar & Radio Sciences group. His research focuses on global atmospheric characterization, gravity science and bistatic radar. He is also head of the Cold Atom Lab (CAL) project, a quantum physics facility on the International Space Station that has been in orbit since May 2018 and creates the coldest material in the universe ever known.
Over the last two decades, the Moroccan scientist has held leadership positions in several major NASA missions: The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), the Cassini International Mission to Saturn, the GRAIL mission, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the Juno Jupiter mission, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and recently the Mars InSight mission and MarCO, Cubesat’s first ever interplanetary mission.
“I work closely with scientists from NASA’s various centers in the areas of communication, radio science, radar and Quantum technologies to develop the next generation of spacecraft and necessary ground infrastructure. to support the goals of NASA’s future human and robotic space missions,” he said.
During his career with the prestigious American agency, Mr. Oudrhiri had received three NASA JPL Mariner Honorary Awards, three JPL Voyager Honor Awards and 39 Team Excellence Awards, making it one of the world’s top honors of NASA’s top awards in the last 20 years.
In 2017, the Moroccan was awarded the “People Leadership Award”, which recognizes outstanding human leadership skills essential to the continued success of NASA’s exploration missions.
The scientist currently living in Santa Monica (around Los Angleles) remains proudly attached to his origins and to Morocco. He does not fail to proudly recall his decoration by HM King Mohamed VI of Wissam Al Arch on the occasion of the Throne Day in 2012.
And despite these prestigious awards and his high office in a high-tech sector, Kamal Oudrhiri keeps his feet firmly on the ground and shows great humility.
“By communicating about my experience, my intention is above all to give hope to young Moroccans, but at the same time, I want to continue to transmit the important message to young people, namely that humility is a virtue and that soon when the person stops being humble, she will simply stop learning,” he added.
It is this desire and its patriotic fiber that explains its commitment to lead soon a large-scale scientific and technological event organized by the US Embassy in Rabat in November.
This is the “Festival of Moonshot Moroccan Youth”, an event organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 11 which took place on July 20, 1969.
This anniversary serves as a catalyst for a series of activities that encourage young Moroccans to promote science and technology to young people and, more broadly, to build their self-confidence and leadership skills.
The “Moroccan Youth Festival Moonshot” will be held from 16 to 18 November in Casablanca. The goal is to reach more than 5,000 Moroccan students.
“I plan to give three lectures on November 16, 17, and 18 with the theme: My Moonshot from Earth to Mars & Beyond” (My Journey from the Earth to the Moon and Beyond).
This presentation will focus, according to Mr. Oudrhiri, on the cumulative lessons of experience gained in NASA’s many missions: the Cassini mission for the planet Saturn, the Juno mission at Jupiter, the missions related to the Mars Curiosity & InSight exploration engines, the GRAIL mission for the moon, the first Mars Cube One interplanetary mission (MarCO), or the Cold Atom Lab (CAL), the first mission of quantum physics aboard the International Space Station.