Charles C. Counselman

Professor Emeritus

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Leader in radio and radar astronomy known for significant advances in GPS technology and precision astrodynamical measurements.

A pioneer in space-based navigation and astrodynamics, Charles C. Counselman III ’64, SM ’65, PhD ’69 made seminal contributions to the field of satellite geodesy by developing a novel approach to analyzing Global Positioning System (GPS) signals, which ultimately proved three orders of magnitude more accurate than the original designers believed possible. He holds 36 patents for innovations in GPS antenna and receiver design, ultimately enabling miniaturization and the widespread consumer use of GPS technology today.

Counselman has also been a key figure in developing applications for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VBLI) and laser ranging, making significant strides in precision orbit determination of solar system bodies, and opening up new avenues for geophysicists to precisely measure Earth’s surface processes—from tectonic movement to localized surface shifts, to the flow rates of ice sheets, and even measuring sea level rise. 

Counselman earned his SB and SM in electrical engineering from MIT and went on to complete PhD studies in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2008 • Charles A. Whitten Medal, American Geophysical Union
  • 1984 • Fellow, American Geophysical Union

Key Publications

  • Counselman, C. C., & Gourevitch, S. A. (1981). Miniature interferometer terminals for earth surveying: ambiguity and multipath with Global Positioning System. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, (4), 244-252, doi: 10.1109/TGRS.1981.350379.

  • Shapiro, I. I., Counselman III, C. C., & King, R. W. (1976). Verification of the principle of equivalence for massive bodiesPhysical Review Letters36(11), 555, doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.36.1068

  • Counselman III, C. C. (1973). Outcomes of tidal evolution. Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 180, pp. 307-316 (1973)180, 307-316, doi: 10.1086/151964