Eliad Peretz, a 40-year-old Israeli mission and instrument scientist in the Heliophysics Science Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, recently received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for his contributions to multiple space missions.
Peretz works at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Raised in Afula, he is an alumnus of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in aerospace engineering. He earned his PhD in mechanical engineering and applied physics at Cornell University.
Peretz has led the development of technologies including the Mars and Lunar Rover LIDAR systems and Exoplanet signal extraction technologies in support of future direct imaging missions.
He previously won awards including NASA’s Early Career Achievement Medal.
In celebration of this latest prize – which has been won in the past by the likes of astrophysicist Carl Sagan — Peretz was honored at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, at an event organized by the American Technion Society.
“Receiving this award marks a significant milestone in my extraordinary life journey,” Peretz said.
“It serves as a substantial indication of the importance and quality of the space missions and scientific research that I currently lead. It also acts as a compass pointing towards future opportunities in my professional career and an important moment to pause, evaluate, and take stock.”
In an interview with “Faces of NASA” two years ago, Peretz said his family had a large olive grove from which they produced olive oil.
“Every summer, nine months before you can harvest the fruit, you need to clear out the bottoms and the centers of the trees, by hand. You could not do it with a machine,” he explained.
“Because I didn’t want to study in the religious school, [my grandfather] would take me every morning to the fields to work on the trees with him. I spent a big part of the third and fourth grade working on the trees in the grove, one by one, and learning what determination means through my hands. … I learned the benefits of planning ahead, and that’s how I started my five-year plan when I was in fifth grade. I learned what it means to not give up. Cold, rain, wind, sun, doesn’t matter. You keep going.”