Dr. Joseph Westlake

Dr. Joseph Westlake is the Director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters where he leads a world-class team in understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star. Dr. Westlake oversees NASA’s work to study key space phenomena and improve situational awareness of the very space our astronauts, satellites, and robotic missions travel through as they explore the solar system and beyond. His portfolio also included NASA’s robust space weather research to help the U.S. Government better predict space weather, which can interfere with radio communications, affect GPS accuracy, and even–when extreme–affect electrical grids on the ground.

Prior to his NASA career, Dr. Westlake was the Space Physics Chief Scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL). He was a space physicist whose research focuses on understanding the magnetospheres in our Solar System and the structure and processes that produce the heliosphere, our local space environment. At JHUAPL, he was responsible for the development of the low-energy plasma laboratory for calibrating particle, plasma, and Energetic Neutral Atom (ENA) instrumentation. He was the Principal Investigator for the Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding (PIMS) an instrument to be flown on the Europa Clipper spacecraft which will be responsible for determining the plasma influence to the induced magnetic field to determine the ice shell thickness, ocean depth, and ocean salinity of Jupiter’s moon Europa. He was the Project Scientist for the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission that will discover the processes responsible for the structure and dynamics of the heliosphere. He has been a member of NASAs Planetary Advisory Committee (PAC). He has made significant contributions, supporting both scientific and technical advancements, to several missions including the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, the Van Allen Probes, Parker Solar Probe, ESA’s JUICE mission to Ganymede, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission, the Juno mission, and Cassini.

Dr. Westlake has authored or co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts including multiple publications in high-impact scientific journals. He is a proven leader and space physicist with extensive experience delivering scientific impact through the development of space missions and instrumentation.

Dr. Westlake graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in Physics. He received a Ph.D in Physics, focusing on Space Physics, from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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Originally aired: April 9, 2024