AAA  Jan. 10, 2015 6:00 PM ET
Pilot killed in small plane crash was NASA scientist
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(AP) — The pilot of a small plane that crashed at a Los Angeles intersection was a NASA and Jet Propulsion Labs researcher who worked on the Mars Curiosity Rover expedition.

KNBC reports ( ) Alberto Behar died instantly when his single-engine plane nosedived shortly after takeoff Friday from Van Nuys Airport.

JPL Science Division manager Michael Watkins says Behar dedicated his career to better understanding Earth and other planets. He worked on two Mars missions and spent years researching how robots work in harsh environments like volcanoes and underwater.

In 2010, he designed a camera that captured a tiny shrimp-like creature swimming deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, a highly unexpected find.

NASA scientist Thomas Wagner says Behar's creativity knew few bounds.

The crash remains under investigation.


Information from: KNBC-TV,

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