American Astronautical Society (AAS) is a premiere professional society dedicated to advancing all space activities.
Monday, 18 April 2022
aerospace engineering professor John Christian
John Christian

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) has announced that AE professor John Christian (BSAE ’05, MSAE ’07) has been elected a 2021 AAS Fellow. Founded in 1954, AAS is a premiere professional society dedicated to advancing all space activities. AAS has long been recognized for the excellence of its national meetings, technical meetings, symposia, publications, and for their impact on shaping the U.S. space program. Fellows are recognized for their significant scientific, engineering, academic and/or management contributions to astronautics and space.  The number of Fellows elected each year may not exceed 1% of the total AAS membership. With this announcement, Christian joins an elite group of AAS members including: Daniel Guggenheim School Professor and David & Andrew Lewis Chair Panagiotis Tsiotras; alumnus John Young (BSAE 1956); former AE School professors Robert Braun, Ryan Russell, and Marcus Holzinger; and other leaders in space exploration.

“This means a lot to me personally. The AAS is the professional society in which I’m most active, with their journal and conferences being amongst my favorite venues for sharing my group’s research results,” said Christian. “To be recognized by this group is deeply humbling and I’m so thankful for having been nominated and elected.”

Christian will formally receive his award during the AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference on August 7-11, 2021 in Charlotte, NC.

At Georgia Tech, Christian develops algorithms for extracting information from space sensor data. He is most well-known for his contributions in the use of visible/infrared space imagery, especially for celestial optical navigation (OPNAV), planetary terrain relative navigation (TRN), and star identification. His algorithms have been incorporated into numerous space exploration missions.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Christian held academic positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Associate Professor, 2020-2021; Assistant Professor, 2017-2019) and West Virginia University (Assistant Professor, 2013-2017). He was also a Summer Faculty Fellow with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) during the summer of 2021. Prior to his academic career, Christian was an engineer in the GNC Autonomous Flight Systems Branch at NASA Johnson Space Center (2010-2012). He holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.