JPL Scientist Killed in Van Nuys Plane Crash Aided ‘Extreme’ Exploration

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A small plane crashed in Van Nuys on Jan. 9, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

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Alberto Enrique Behar dedicated his career to the idea that there was no place too hot, too cold or too remote for science.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arizona State University, he developed robotic instruments that investigated Antarctic lakes, the deep ocean and volcanoes and helped determine there was once water on the surface of Mars.

Behar, 47, died Friday when the small plane he was flying crashed shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys Airport.  The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what led the single-engine Lancair to lose altitude and slam into a busy intersection near the airport.

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