“What am I looking for in a Planetarium? An experience which makes the visitor a participant in learning about the interconnections between humanity and the cosmos: from the origin of the elements which make our bodies, the universality of the physical laws humans have discovered, the grand scale of our world through space and time, and the idea that we may not be alone.”

Dr. Charles Beichman is the Executive Director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at Caltech, NASA’s Center for exoplanet research. Dr. Beichman has been deeply involved in the search for evidence of planetary systems using first IRAS, Spitzer and now Kepler K2 for which he has an approved Cycle  1 program to search for planets orbiting bright nearby M stars. Dr. Beichman helped to formulate NASA’s program to search for planets around other stars, authoring numerous articles and reports on the search for terrestrial and ultimately habitable planets. Before taking up his role at NExScI, he was Chief Scientist for JPL’s Astrophysics Directorate and before that Director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) working on Infrared Satellite Astronomy Satellite (IRAS), 2 Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), ESA’s ISA, and Spitzer. He was a member of the Spitzer/MIPS instrument team and currently leads the JWST/NIRCam instrument team’s program. Most recently he has been leading internal JPL R&D  efforts to develop laser frequency combs as wavelength standards for precision radial velocity measurements in collaboration with Caltech and NIST. These efforts led to the demonstration of a laser frequency comb at the IRTF and Keck telescopes in 2015 (Yi et al 2016).


1973 A.B. (Astronomy), Magna Cum Laude, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1979 Ph.D.(Astronomy), University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii (Thesis advisor Dr. E.E. Becklin)

Recent Professional Experience:

– Executive Director, NASA Exoplanet Science Center, Caltech/JPL, 2003-present
– Senior Faculty and Visiting Associate, California Inst. Technology, 2003-present 
– Senior Scientist, JPL, 2005-present.
– Chief Scientist, Astronomy and Physics Directorate, JPL, 2001-2003
– Director, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, 1991-1998