Michael C. Kelley, promoted to emeritus status as the James A. Friend and Family Distinguished Professor Engineering Emeritus
Michael C. Kelley was recently promoted to emeritus status as the James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor Engineering Emeritus. Kelley was elected to emeritus status upon his retirement on July 1, 2013.
Kelley’s research efforts involved using Large RADAR observatories to measure wind and wave patterns from 30 to several hundred kilometers above the surface of the earth. Other research interests concerned the use of satellites and rockets to carry Cornell instrumentation directly into the space environment. The measurements are interpreted in terms of the physics of the atmosphere and ionosphere and both global and localized features of the earth's electric field, including thunderstorms and the aurora.
In 1983, Kelley merged his knowledge of rockets with the expertise of the Cornell radar community and mounted an intensive study of the equatorial upper atmosphere, when he led the NASA rocket campaign, Condor, launching 29 sounding rockets off the coast of Peru. Similar projects were carried out in Greenland in 1985 and 1987, in the South Pacific in 1990, and in Puerto Rico in 1992. Another project of this type took place in 1998.
Kelley has been deeply involved in ac/dc electric field experiments in space since 1966. He played an important role in supplying electronics and/or analyzing results for 70 rocket flights, four satellite missions, and numerous balloon flights. Since arriving at Cornell in 1975, he also performed experiments for neutral wind measurements using chemical tracers, for active experiments in space plasmas, and for radar and lidar scatter measurements of turbulence and dc electric fields.
After receiving the doctoral degree, Kelley was a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley, held a joint appointment as a Von Humboldt fellow with Gerhard Haerendel at the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany, and came to Cornell in 1975. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 1979 he won their James B. Macelwane Award. Kelley has been a member of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Solar and Space Plasmas; the Management Working Group on Solar Space Plasmas of the Office of Space Science, NASA; and the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee on the Atmosphereic Research Program. In 1981, he won the Tau Beta Pi-Cornell Society of Engineers award as the outstanding teacher in the Cornell College of Engineering. Kelley is chair of the NSF Global Change Program's Upper Atmosphere Component, CEDAR, and is the special advisor for atmospheric science at the Arecibo Observatory. He was elected James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering in February 2001.