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 Earth Surface And Interior (329A): People
Robert  Crippen's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 300-233
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Robert Crippen

Robert E. (Bob) Crippen is an Earth scientist and research geologist in the Solid Earth Science Group at JPL. His work emphasizes new methodologies for information extraction from satellite imagery, currently with emphasis on refining topographic datasets. As a member of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and ASTER science teams, he is working to improve Earth's digital elevation model across the entire globe. His previous innovations in image processing include methods to extract sub-pixel measures of ground displacement (e.g. earthquake strains fields and sand dune migration), methods to suppress vegetative, snow, and atmospheric haze features to better reveal the underlying bedrock, and other methods to enhance and extract spectral and topographic information. Dr. Crippen explores new uses of geospatial data to better understand earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, other natural hazards, and landform and land cover dynamics.

  • B.S., Geology and Geography, University of California, Los Angeles (1974)
  • M.A., Geology, University of California, Santa Barbara (1979)
  • Ph.D., Earth Science Remote Sensing, University of California, Santa Barbara (1989)

Research Interests
  • Remote sensing investigations in the Earth sciences
  • Tectonics and geomorphology
  • Visualization of scientific data
  • Development of remote sensing and image processing methodologies
  • Global topographic mapping


ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) is an imaging instrument flying on Terra, a satellite launched in December 1999 as part of NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS).

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) obtained elevation data on a near-global scale to generate the most complete high-resolution digital topographic database of Earth.

Professional Experience
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1987 - present)
    • ASTER Science Team Member
    • Team Member, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (1999-present)
    • Research Scientist, Radar Science / Terrestrial Sciences / Solid Earth Science Groups, (1987-present)
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, San Diego State University (1995-present)
  • Consultant in Earth Science Remote Sensing (1984-present)
  • Tectonics Project Manager, University of California, Santa Barbara (1980-1987)

Selected Awards
  • JPL Excellence Award, SRTM Real Time Science Team (2001)
  • Best of Conference Honors, International Conference on Geologic Remote Sensing (1991, 1996, 1999)
  • Northwest Cooperative Education Association, Employer of the Year (1994-1995)
  • University of California Regents Fellowship (1977-1981)

Selected Publications
  1. Crippen, R., S. Buckley, P. Agram, E. Belz, E. Gurrola, S. Hensley, M. Kobrick, M. Lavalle, J. Martin, M. Neumann, Q. Nguyen, P. Rosen, J. Shimada, M. Simard, and W. Tung, 2016, NASADEM global elevation model:  methods and progress.  International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), WG IV/3, 4p.
  2. Saraswat, P., T.H. Syed, J.S. Famiglietti, E.J. Fielding, R. Crippen, and N. Gupta, 2013, Recent changes in the snout position and surface velocity of Gangotri glacier observed from space. International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 34, no. 24, p. 8653-8668.
  3. Kobrick, M., and R.E. Crippen, 2013, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission NASA Version 3 ("SRTM Plus") Digital Elevation Model and associated products, available at DEM
  4. Crippen, Robert E., 2010, Global topographical exploration and analysis with the SRTM and ASTER elevation models, Chapter 2 (Keynote Presentation) in Fleming, C., Marsh, S.H., and Giles, J.R.A. (editors), Elevation Models for Geoscience. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 345, p. 5-15, doi:10.1144/SP345.2
  5. Kargel, J.S., G. Leonard, R.E. Crippen, K.B. Delaney, S.G. Evans, and J. Schneider, 2010, Satellite monitoring of Pakistan's rockslide-dammed Lake Gojal. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 91, no. 43, p. 394-395.
  6. Farr, T., P. Rosen, E. Caro, R. Crippen, R. Duren, S. Hensley, M. Kobrick, M. Paller, E. Rodriguez, L. Roth, D. Seal, S. Shaffer, J. Shimada, J. Umland, M. Werner, M. Oskin, D. Burbank, and D. Alsdorf, 2007. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. Reviews of Geophysics, volume 45, doi:10.1029/2005RG000183.
  7. Blom, Ronald G., Robert Crippen, Charles Elachi, Nicholas Clapp, George R. Hedges, and Juris Zarins, 2007, Southern Arabian Desert Trade Routes, Frankincense, Myrrh, and the Ubar Legend. Chapter 3 (pages 71-87) in Remote Sensing in Archaeology, James Wiseman and Farouk El-Baz, editors, Springer, New York, 554 p.
  8. Crippen, R., S. Hook, and E. Fielding, 2007, Nighttime ASTER thermal imagery as an elevation surrogate for filling SRTM DEM voids. Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L01302, doi:10.1029/2006GL028496.
  9. Donnellan, A., J. Rundle, J. Ries, G. Fox, M. Pierce, J. Parker, R. Crippen, E. DeJong, B. Chao, W. Kuang, D. McLeod, M. Mastu'ura, J. Bloxham, 2004, Illuminating the Earth's Interior Through Advanced Computing. Computing in Science and Engineering (CiSE), v. 6, p. 36-44.
  10. Crippen, Robert E., 2002, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Digital Elevation Model: A Year 2000 Baseline for Measuring Topographic Change. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 83, no. 47, H22B-0903.
  11. Crippen, Robert E., and Ronald G. Blom, 2001, Unveiling the lithology of vegetated terrains in remotely sensed imagery. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 67, no. 8, p. 935-943.
  12. Lee, Jeffrey, M. Meghan Miller, Robert Crippen, Bradley Hacker, and Jorge Ledesma Vasquez, 1996, Middle Miocene extension in the Gulf Extensional Province, Baja California: Evidence from the southern Sierra Juarez. Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 108, no. 5, p. 505-525.
  13. Crippen, R. E., and R.G. Blom, 1992, The first visual observation of fault movements from space: The 1992 Landers earthquake. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 73, no. 43, p. 364.
  14. Crippen, Robert E., 1992, Measurement of subresolution terrain displacements using SPOT panchromatic imagery. Episodes, v. 15, no. 1, p. 56-61.
  15. Crippen, Robert E., 1990, Calculating the vegetation index faster. Remote Sensing of Environment, v. 34, no. 1, p. 71-73.
  16. Ford, J.P., R.K. Dokka, R. E. Crippen, and R.G. Blom, 1990, Faults in the Mojave Desert, California, as revealed on enhanced Landsat images. Science, v. 248, no. 4958, p. 1000-1003 and cover image.
  17. Beratan, K.K., R.G. Blom, J.E. Nielson, and R. E. Crippen, 1990, Use of Landsat Thematic Mapper images in regional correlation of syn-tectonic strata, Colorado River extensional corridor, California and Arizona. Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 95, no. B1, p. 615-624.
  18. Crippen, Robert E., 1989, A simple spatial filtering routine for the cosmetic removal of scan-line noise from Landsat TM P-tape imagery. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 55, no. 3, p. 327-331.
  19. Crippen, Robert E., 1988, The dangers of underestimating the importance of data adjustments in band ratioing. International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 9, no. 4, p. 767-776.
  20. Crippen, Robert E., Ronald G. Blom, and Jan R. Heyada, 1988, Directed band ratioing for the retention of perceptually-independent topographic expression in chromaticity-enhanced imagery. International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 9, no. 4, p. 749-765.
  21. Crippen, Robert E., 1987, The regression intersection method of adjusting image data for band ratioing. International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 8, no. 2, p. 137-155.
  22. Estes, John E., Robert E. Crippen, and Jeffrey L. Star, 1985, Natural oil seep detection in the Santa Barbara Channel, California, with Shuttle Imaging Radar. Geology, v. 13, no. 4, p. 282-284.
  23. Blom, Ronald G., Robert E. Crippen, and Charles Elachi, 1984, Detection of subsurface features in Seasat radar images of Means Valley, Mojave Desert, California. Geology, v. 12, no. 6, p. 346-349.

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