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Instruments and Science Data Systems: Contact 
Charles  Norton's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 169-315
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109

Charles Norton
Program Area Manager and Principal Research Technologist

Charles D. Norton is a Principal Technologist and Program Area Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He is the Advanced Information Systems Technology and Advanced Technology Initiatives Program Associate for the NASA Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) at JPL. He also holds additional duty appointments in the Earth Science and Technology Directorate and Solar System Exploration Technology Program. He is a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) and was recently named the Engineering and Science Directorate (ESD) point-of-contact for SmallSat efforts at JPL. His other work covers advanced scientific software for Earth and space science modeling with an emphasis on high performance computing. Additionally, he has led efforts in model-based validation of precision deployable structures and small satellite technology validation.

Charles is also a study co-lead for the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) Workshop on Small Satellites: A Revolution in Space Science. The Keck Institute is a "think and do tank," whose primary purpose is to bring together a broad spectrum of scientists and engineers for sustained technical interaction aimed at developing new space mission concepts and technology.

  • B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, 1988; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  • M.S. in Computer Science, 1990; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science, 1996; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Research Interests
  • Small Satellites for Spaceborne Technology Validation
  • High Performance Computing for Earth and Space Science Modeling
  • Advanced Information Systems Technologies


Technology development encompasses many subject areas, with the overall goal being to demonstrate new designs and capabilities for instruments of the future.

QuakeSim is a project to develop a solid Earth science framework for modeling and understanding earthquake and tectonic processes.

The NASA Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) funds and develops a broad range of technologies for the scientific observation and measurement of Earth.

Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
    • NASA Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO) Program Associate (2008-present)
    • Principal Member of Technical Staff (2003-present)
    • Senior Member of Technical Staff (2000-2003)
    • Member of Technical Staff (1998-2000)
    • Solar System Exploration Technology Program (AD) (2010-present)
    • Earth Science and Technology Directorate (AD) (2005-present)
    • Supervisor, Model-Based Systems Engineering Group (2003-2008)
  • National Research Council, Pasadena, California
    • Resident Research Associate at JPL (1996-1998)

Selected Awards
  • NASA Software of the Year (2012)
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2006)
  • JPL Lew Allen Award for Excellence (2004)
  • NASA NOVA Award (1999)
  • NASA Space Act Awards (various)
  • NASA Group Achievement Awards (various)

Selected Publications
  1. Norton, C., Pasciuto, M., Pingree, P., Chien, S., and Rider, D., "Spaceborne Flight Validation of NASA ESTO Technologies," IGARSS Conference, July 2012.
  2. Norton, C. and Moe, K., "Sensor Web Technology Challenges and Advancements for the Earth Science Decadal Survey Era," IGARSS Conference, July 2011.
  3. Parker, J., Norton, C., and Lyzenga, G., "Parallel GeoFEST for regional faulted deformation," Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 22: 1604–1625. doi: 10.1002/cpe.1511, 2010.
  4. Norton, C., Eldering, A., Turmon, M., and Parker, J., "Extending OSSE Beyond Numerical Weather Prediction to New Areas in Earth Observing Science," IEEE Aerospace Conference, March 2009.
  5. Decyk, V., Norton, C., and B. K. Szymanski, "How to Express C++ Concepts in Fortran 90," Scientific Programming, vol. 6, no. 4, IOS Press, Winter 1997, p. 363.

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