The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the selection of Michael Watkins as the new director of the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
President Thomas Rosenbaum and his leadership team at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have made an outstanding choice in naming Dr. Michael M. Watkins as the new director of JPL. I, for one, cannot wait to work with him to advance our Journey to Mars, along with our understanding of our own planet, our universe, and humanity's place in it.
Dr. Watkins is no stranger to the NASA family. In more than two decades at JPL, Dr. Watkins played a major role in the Mars Curiosity Rover, Cassini, Mars Odyssey, GRACE, GRAIL, and the GRACE Follow-on missions — to name just a few. I am confident that he will do an excellent job as he begins a new chapter in the incredible legacy that Caltech and NASA have written together through JPL for generations.
Dr. Watkins will have some very big shoes to fill in succeeding retiring JPL Director Charles Elachi. When American astronauts reach Mars in the 2030s it will be in large part because of the work that Dr. Elachi and his JPL team have done in tandem with NASA colleagues, collaborators and contractors throughout the nation, and indeed our world.