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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Remote Sensing Pioneer Richard Moore Passes Away

Published on November 20th, 2012 by Michelle Ward

EECS Professor Emeritus Richard Moore, a pioneer in the field of remote sensing, died on November 13. He was 89.  

EECS Professor Emeritus Richard Moore
EECS Professor Emeritus Richard Moore

Dr. Moore was one of the world's most respected leaders in remote sensing, a field that uses sensors to collect information about the Earth’s surface. He spent over 30 years at the University of Kansas, where he developed powerful tools that transformed weather forecasting and climate change monitoring. 

““Dr. Richard K. Moore made outstanding and lasting contributions to the field of remote sensing of the ice. Throughout his career, he received many national and international awards, and satellites based on concepts he developed are currently flying in space.  This is the side of Dr. Moore that most people know,” said EECS Distinguished Professor Gogineni. “What they don’t know was how well he cared for those he worked with, particularly during times of need. Our relationship was such that no matter what I was going through ─ be it a personal tragedy or a professional triumph ─ Dr. Moore was there. It was at his insistence that I stayed at the University of Kansas, and needless to say, he contributed much to my personal and professional growth.”

In 1957, before the U.S. had even launched its first satellite, Dr. Moore co-authored a research paper that described how radar could map the Earth from orbit. He recognized the remote sensing potential of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) attached to a low-flying aircraft. Six years later, he was helping NASA launch the first generation of communications and weather satellites.

Dr. Moore came to KU in 1962 as the Black & Veatch Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering. He established the interdisciplinary Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) two years later, with support from NASA and the Army. RSL pioneered the use of short wavelength (microwave) radar systems for satellite-based remote sensing.

Among his many innovations was the wind scatterometer, which helped revolutionize weather forecasting by mapping wind fields over remote oceanic regions. The radar identifies hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones in the early stages of formation and monitors wind speed and other factors that influence weather.

“As a student, I knew that Dr. Moore was a world-class expert and engineer; now as a faculty member, I recognize what great foresight he had when establishing RSL.  His efforts and vision have had a tremendous impact and will continue to do so for years to come,” EECS Professor Chris Allen, who had Dr. Moore as a professor before joining him on the faculty in 1994.

Dr. Moore received many accolades during his career. They include the Australian Prize for Remote Sensing and the Remote Sensing Award from Italian Center, both in 1995. In 1993, he was named a Life Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The dedicated teacher received KU’s Louise E. Byrd Graduate Educator Award in 1984. He established the Richard K. & Wilma S. Moore Thesis Award to honor the best graduate thesis and doctoral dissertation.

While he retired in 1994, Dr. Moore led research projects and continued to work with the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS).

Memorials can be made to First Presbyterian Church or to the KU Endowment Association.