||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Arabic Wikipedia. (April 2013)|
January 2, 1938 |
|Alma mater||Missouri University of Science and Technology|
|Known for||Project Apollo|
|Notable awards||NASA's Apollo Achievement Award
Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
Certificate of Merit of the World Aerospace Education Organization
Republic of Egypt Order of Merit - First Class
1989 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Egyptian American Organization
1991 Golden Door Award of the International Institute of Boston
Farouk El-Baz (Arabic: فاروق الباز, Egyptian Arabic: [fɑˈruːʔ elˈbæːz, fæˈruːʔ]) (born January 2, 1938) is an Egyptian American scientist who worked with NASA to assist in the planning of scientific exploration of the Moon, including the selection of landing sites for the Apollo missions and the training of astronauts in lunar observations and photography.
Currently, El-Baz is Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. He is Adjunct Professor of Geology at the Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Geological Society of America Foundation, Boulder, Colorado, a member of the Board of Directors of CRDF Global, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC.
In 1964, he received a Doctor of Philosophy in geology from the Missouri University of Science and Technology after conducting research from 1962 to 1963 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1978, El-Baz was appointed Science Adviser to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He was charged with the selection of regions for land reclamation in the desert without detrimental effects on the environment. For his distinguished service, President Sadat awarded him Egypt's Order of Merit - First Class.
El-Baz taught Geology at Assiut University, Egypt (1958–1960) and the Heidelberg University, Germany (1964–1965). He joined the Pan American - U.A.R. Oil Company in 1966, where he participated in the discovery of El-Morgan, the first offshore oil field in the Gulf of Suez.
The NASA period
From 1967 to 1972, El-Baz participated in the Apollo Program as Supervisor of Lunar Science Planning at Bellcomm Inc., a division of AT&T that conducted systems analysis for NASA.
During these six years, he was secretary of the Landing Site Selection Committee for the Apollo lunar landing missions, Principal Investigator of Visual Observations and Photography, and chairman of the Astronaut Training Group.
His outstanding teaching abilities were confirmed by the Apollo astronauts. While orbiting the Moon for the first time during Apollo 15, Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden said, "After the King's [Farouk's nickname] training, I feel like I've been here before."
Also, during the Apollo program, El-Baz joined NASA officials in briefing members of the press on the results of the lunar missions. His ability to simplify scientific jargon made his remarks on the program's scientific accomplishments often quoted by the media.
The Post-Apollo period
After the Apollo Program ended in 1972, El-Baz joined the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC to establish and direct the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. At the same time, he was elected as a member of the Lunar Nomenclature Task Group of the International Astronomical Union. In this capacity, he continues to participate in naming features of the Moon as revealed by lunar photographic missions.
In 1973, NASA selected him as principal investigator of the Earth Observations and Photography Experiment on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), the first joint American-Soviet space mission in July 1975. Emphasis was placed on photographing arid environments, particularly the Great Sahara of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to other features of the Earth and its oceans.
Emphasizing the study of the origin and evolution of arid landscapes, he collected field data during visits to every major desert in the world. One of his significant journeys took place soon after the United States and China had normalized relations in 1979, when he coordinated the first visit by American scientists to the deserts of northwestern China. The six-week journey was chronicled in National Geographic and Explorers Journal. His research on the origin and evolution of the desert resulted in his election as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
From 1982 until he joined Boston University in 1986, he was vice president of Itek Optical Systems of Lexington, Massachusetts. During these years he supervised the utilization of the Space Shuttle's Large Format Camera photographs.
El-Baz was elected fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World TWAS, and to the National Academy of Engineering (USA). In 1999, the Geological Society of America Foundation (GSAF) established the Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research, to annually reward excellence in arid land studies. In 2007 the GSAF also established the Farouk El-Baz Student Research Award to encourage desert research.
Desert research and theories
During the past 20 years in his research at Boston University, El-Baz has utilized satellite images to better understand the origin and evolution of desert landforms. He is credited with providing evidence that the desert is not man-made, but the result of major climatic variations. His research uncovered numerous sand-buried rivers and streams in the Sahara based on the interpretation of radar images.
These former water courses lead into depressions in the terrain, which he theorized must contain groundwater. His analysis of these data resulted in the location of groundwater in the arid terrains of Egypt, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), and perhaps Darfur in Sudan (unless it dried up).
The Kuwait River theory
El-Baz piqued the interest of Biblical scholars around the world with his announcement of the so-called Kuwait River. The idea that a river once flowed across the deserts of Arabia, and somehow connected with the Tigris and/or Euphrates River, seemed far-fetched.
Yet evidence for such a river came from the satellite radar images taken during the 1994 mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. El-Baz studied the images, and noticed that traces of a defunct river that crossed northern Arabia from west to east were visible beneath the sands, thanks to the ground-penetrating capabilities of the radar technologies. 
He called it the Kuwait River (also referred to as Wadi Al-Batin, an extension of Wadi Al-Rummah), for that is where it apparently connected with the Euphrates or emptied into the Persian Gulf. This proposed river system may have been active 2500–3000 BC. Bdellium plants are also abundant in the Hijaz.
Giza pyramid theory
In a National Geographic documentary film in 2002, El-Baz proposed a new source for the shape of The Pyramids at Giza. El-Baz believes that the ancient Egyptians chose to bury their dead in pyramid shaped structures because they knew from an earlier nomadic life that monumental pyramidal landforms which abound in the Western Desert of Egypt, evade erosion.
- He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including: the Golden Door Award of the International Institute of Boston; the Nevada Medal of the Desert Research Institute, and the Pioneer Award of the Arab Thought Foundation.
- In Episode 10 ("Galileo Was Right") of the TV series From the Earth to the Moon, (produced by Tom Hanks for HBO), his role in the training of the Apollo astronauts was featured in a segment entitled "The Brain of Farouk El-Baz." He was portrayed by actor Isa Totah.
- The popular science fiction television program Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a shuttlecraft named El-Baz, as well as a starship named in his honor.
- Biography of Dr. Farouk El-Baz faroukelbaz.com. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- UMR Public Relations, 2004. News@Missouri S&T. accessed December 1, 2009][dead link].
- “Dr. Farouk El-Baz Director.” accessed December 1, 2009.[dead link]
- Farouk El-Baz: With Apollo to the Moon, IslamOnline
- "Farouk El-Baz joins Free Egyptians’ Party", Al-Ahram Online, 20 Apr 2011, retrieved 28 June 2011
- "Underground lake may bring Darfur peace: scientist" by Tanzina Vega, Reuters, July 18, 2007
- Ancient Darfur lake 'is dried up', BBC, July 20, 2007
- James K. Hoffmeier, The Archaeology of the Bible, Lion Hudson: Oxford, England, 34-35
- The Pishon River - Found. by C.A. Salabach at Focus Magazine