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Jakob van Zyl is an engineer who has held important positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and participated in many space exploration missions for decades. He has now passed away. He was 63 years old.

JPL spokesperson Veronica McGregor said that Van Zyl retired in 2019 after having a 33-year career. He suffered a heart attack on Monday and was in Pasadena, California on Wednesday. Died in a hospital.

Van Zyl’s responsibilities include director of astronomy and physics, director of solar system exploration, and deputy director of the project responsible for developing JPL’s future vision.

JPL Director Michael Watkins said in a statement: “JPL and NASA have become even more important for their many contributions in technology and management, as well as his unwavering dedication and fascinating personality. rich.”

Van Zyl participated in the following missions: sending the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, sending dawn to the asteroid belt, sending Cassini to Saturn, and sending InSight Mars and its accompanying CubeSat spacecraft Tied together. He also participated in the “Mars 2020 Perseverance” rover mission currently to the red planet, and the development of future missions.

His early work in earth sciences led him to design and develop missions using synthetic aperture radar.

Van Zyl is a native of Namibia. He has a degree in electrical from Stellenbosch University in South Africa and a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL.

JPL stated that Van Zyl is keen to encourage young people in Namibia and South Africa to pursue science.

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The U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said in a video tribute posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page: “His legacy will inspire the attention of future generations.”

Van Zyl survived by his wife Kalfie and two siblings.

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By Rebecca French

Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...