Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from 1976 to 1982, Bruce Murray was a geologist whose vision was never earthbound. He earned his PhD from MIT and served two years in the U.S. Air Force before joining the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1960. Caltech manages JPL for NASA, and soon Murray was working on JPL’s Mariner missions to Mars. During his tenure as director of JPL, the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars and the Voyagers began exploring the outer solar system. He also oversaw Earth orbital missions, including Seasat, the Solar Mesosphere Explorer, and Shuttle Imaging Radar-A.
After stepping down as JPL director, Murray remained at Caltech as a professor of planetary science and geology. He authored or co-authored over 130 scientific papers and seven books. In 1979 Murray co-founded, along with Carl Sagan and Louis Friedman, the Planetary Society, an organization to promote public support for space exploration. He believed deeply in the importance of learning about the solar system and urged his colleagues at JPL to do “remarkable things . . . significant to both our times and to the world of our children.” He was a tireless advocate for planetary science, and through his leadership he helped our nation’s planetary exploration program grow and flourish.