John Christian

Associate Professor
Office Building
Office Room Number

Professor John Christian is an associate professor in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he develops algorithms for extracting information from space sensor data. Prof. Christian is most well-known for his contributions in the use of visible/infrared space imagery, especially for celestial optical navigation (OPNAV), planetary terrain relative navigation (TRN), and star/asterism identification. His algorithms have been incorporated into numerous space exploration missions. 

Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Christian held academic positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Associate Professor, 2020-2021; Assistant Professor, 2017-2019) and West Virginia University (Assistant Professor, 2013-2017). He was also a Summer Faculty Fellow with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) during the summer of 2021. Prior to his academic career, Christian was an engineer in the GNC Autonomous Flight Systems Branch at NASA Johnson Space Center (2010-2012).

Christian is active in numerous professional societies. He is an AIAA Associate Fellow and an associate editor of the AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. He is also a member of the AAS Space Flight Mechanics Committee and an associate editor of the AAS Journal of the Astronautical Sciences.

He holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a B.S. and M.S. in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech.



  • Space Exploration Analysis Laboratory (SEAL)


  • Flight Mechanics & Controls

  • Systems Design & Optimization

AE Multidisciplinary Research Areas:

  • Robotics, Autonomy, and Human Interactions

  • Space Exploration and Earth Monitoring

  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology;
  • M.S., Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology;
  • Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
Distinctions & Awards
  • American Astronautical Society (AAS) Fellow, 2021
  • NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Fellow, 2020
  • AIAA Associate Fellow, 2019
  • New Researcher of the Year, WVU Statler College of Engineering & Mineral Resources, 2015
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award, 2015
  • AIAA Willy Z. Sadeh Graduate Award in Space Engineering and Space Sciences, 2007