Friends, colleagues remember fellow professor and scientist who died in plane crash

Fox 10 News is learning more about the Scottsdale man who died in a small plane crash in southern California Friday.

He was an accomplished ASU professor and longtime NASA scientist. His work even helped lead to discoveries on mars.

Alberto Enrique Behar worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab for more than two decades. His death is a huge loss for the science and engineering community. He was known for his groundbreaking work on Earth and on Mars.

Behar dedicated his life to exploring the unknown. He developed robots and instruments, finding life in the most remote of places.

Behar's colleague at NASA writes, "The amazing Alberto developed new ways to explore the world's great ice sheets. From his submarines that peeked under Antarctica to his boats that raced Greenland's rivers, Alberto's work enabled measurements of things we'd never known. His creativity knew few bounds…He is--and will forever be--sorely missed. "

The 47-year-old also flew helicopters and airplanes. He died Friday when his single-engine plane crashed shortly after take-off from Van Nuys airport.

Behar's longtime friend writes, "He had a passion for aviation, a truly inventive mind, and will be missed."

At ASU, Behar was the director of the Extreme Environments Robotics and Instrumentation laboratory. He helped discover ecosystems far below Antarctic ice.

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, he worked on the Curiosity Rover, helping determine there was once water on Mars.

Behar earned his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from USC and lived in Scottsdale with his wife and three children.

From the deep sea to the skies, all the way to outer space, Behar's loved ones say his passion for discovery was limitless.

Behar's plane crashed in a busy intersection Friday, but luckily no one on the ground was hurt. The FAA is investigating the cause of the crash.
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