Abolghassem Ghaffari, NASA scientist

December 4, 2013

Abolghassem Ghaffari, a NASA scientist who also had worked at what was then the National Bureau of Standards and lectured at American University, died Nov. 5 at a rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles. He was 106.

He died of injuries suffered in an accidental fall and resulting heart complications, said as daughter, Vida Ghaffari.

As a NASA scientist Dr. Ghaffari worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on the Apollo moon landing in 1969. He studied mathematical aspects of Earth-moon trajectories and analytical methods for making midcourse maneuvers in space. He retired from NASA in 1972.

Abolghassem Ghaffari was born in Tehran. In 1932, he received a degree in mathematics at Nancy University in France. In 1936, he received a doctorate from the Sorbonne on the mathematical study of Brownian motion (the movement of small particles in a fluid medium) .

For the next 20 years, he traveled among the United States, England and Iran, and from 1941 to 1956 he was a professor of higher analysis in the mathematics department at the University of Tehran.

He lectured at American University in Washington. He was a research associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He lectured at King’s College in London, where in 1948 he received a doctorate from the mathematics department. He was a research associate at Harvard University.

In 1956, he moved permanently to the United States to work as a senior mathematician at what now is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He joined NASA in 1964. He was author of 50 papers on pure and applied mathematics, two textbooks and a mathematical book.

A former resident of the District, Chevy Chase and Bethesda, he moved to Los Angeles in 2004.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Mitra Meshkati Ghaffari, and two daughters, Ida Ghaffari and Vida Ghaffari, all of Los Angeles.

— Bart Barnes