Astrophysics Science Division (660) Local News Archive

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Robert H. Goddard Award Winners

Congratulations to the all the 660 winners of Robert H. Goddard awards:

Caroline Kilbourne – Award of Merit
Eli Dwek – Award of Merit
Julie McEnery – Leadership
Elisa Quintana – Leadership, Mentoring (two awards!)
Stephen Rinehart – Leadership
Aki Roberge – Leadership
Josh Schleider – Leadership
Sheila Rahming – Secretarial/Clerical
Petrus Bult – Science
Jeremy Schnittman – Science
Will Zhang – Science
TESS Science Support Center Team – Science Teams
Origins Space Telescope Mission Concept Study Team – Science Teams
LUVOIR Science and Technology Definition Team – Science Teams

First AAS Fellows include ASD Scientists

The Fellows program of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, was established in 2019 to honor members for their contributions toward the AAS mission of enhancing and sharing humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. The following members of ASD were honored among the first group of AAS Fellows, announced Feb. 25:

Edward Cheng
Alice Harding
Sangeeta Malhotra
Maxim Markevitch
John Mather
William Pence
Tod Strohmayer
Jean Hebb Swank
Kimberly Weaver

2019 John C. Lindsay Award for Space Science

Photo of Keith and ZavenDrs. Keith Gendreau and Zaven Arzoumanian are the joint winners of the 2019 John C. Lindsay Award for Space Science. Keith and Zaven are being recognized for their development of the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) instrument, and the revelations of the physics of neutron stars and their environments that NICER is producing. Keith is the PI of NICER and Zaven is the Deputy PI.

Regina Caputo Selected as a Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellow

Congratulations to Regina Caputo on her selection as a Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellow.

Black Hole Week was September 23-27

Have you ever thought about visiting a black hole? We sure hope not. However, if you're absolutely convinced that a black hole is your ideal vacation spot, watch this video before you blast off to learn more about them and (more importantly) how to stay safe.

2019 Government and Commercial Invention of the Year

Congratulations to Keith Gendreau (Code 662), Zaven Arzoumanian (Code 662), and Steven Kenyon (Code 543). NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board have selected the winner for the 2019 Government and Commercial Invention of the Year, and the winner is Miniaturized High Speed Modulated X-Ray source (MXS).

Developed in support of the NICER instrument, the MXS is a small, low cost option for high-speed modulation of X-ray intensity. The miniaturized X-ray source can be modulated in intensity from completely off to full intensity, over 100 keV, on subnanosecond timescales. The high speed switching capability and miniature size make possible many new technologies including X-ray-based communication, compact time resolved X-ray diffraction, novel X-ray fluorescence instruments, low precise dose medical X-rays, and more.

Thank you Keith, Zaven and Steve for representing Goddard while advancing research and development in a field that benefits all of us.

Poster Blowout 2019 is in the books!

photo of people at the poster party

Photos from this year's Poster Blowout are available now. Congratulations to everyone, especially this year's winners!

NICER Nominated for Rotary National Award for Space Achievement

photo of Avi and Elisa with Science-on-a-sphere NICER has been nominated for the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation's prestigious Stellar Award in recognition of recognizes the NICER team’s hard work and exceptional accomplishments. The PI, Dr. Keith Gendreau, and a guest are invited as representatives of the team to attend the 33rd annual Space Awards Gala, to be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston, Texas, on April 26. They are also invited to participate in a tour of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, followed by a luncheon at the Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake on the day of the gala, when the Stellar Award winners will be announced.

2018 John C. Lindsay Award for Space Science

photo of Jane Rigby Jane Rigby is the winner of the 2018 John C. Lindsay Award for Space Science. Jane is being recognized for her leadership on the Magellan Evolution of Galaxies Spectroscopic and Ultraviolet Reference Atlas (Megasaura). Jane has led the Megasaura project since its inception in 2010.

Gehrels Memorial Meeting

Gehrels Memorial Meeting
On May 21-22, 2018, over 100 colleagues from around the globe gathered at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the life and career of Neil Gehrels at a memorial symposium. Talks spanned the range of Neil’s scientific interests (cosmic rays, gamma-ray bursts, gravitational waves) and programmatic roles (Compton, Swift, Fermi, and WFIRST), as well as personal reminiscences of a universally admired mentor, colleague, and friend. We were also pleased to publicly announce that, as a result of a generous donation from the Gehrels family, the nationally recognized prize doctoral position offered by the Joint Space-Science Institute will be renamed the Neil Gehrels Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship.

The meeting’s webpage, including talks, can be found here:

Recent Awards from the American Astronautical Society

Congratulations to Goddard scientists Ira Thorpe and Jake Slutsky, both in 663, who are part of the LISA Pathfinder (LPF) team, which was recently awarded the 2017 Space Technology Award from the American Astronautical Society. Other Goddard employees who are on the LPF team are Jim O’Donnell, Peiman Maghami, and Oscar Hu in Code 591. Jesse Leitner in Code 300 received the Industrial Leadership Award. Harley Thronson received the AAS President’s Recognition Award for a decade of chairing the Goddard Symposium planning team.
photo of Ira Thorpe and AAS staff photo of Harley and AAS staff
Left: Ira Thorpe with Jim Way and Carol Lane of AAS. Right: Harley Thronson with Jim Way of AAS. Click to enlarge.

Professor Saku Tsuneta, Director General of ISAS, visits

photo of Tsuneta, Hartman, and Kelley
Colleen Hartman and Richard Kelley (662) present Professor Saku Tsuneta, Director General, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan, with a plaque commemorating the strong scientific collaboration in astrophysics between NASA and JAXA.

Poster Blowout 2018

Note from the Director:
I would like to thank the Director’s Science Committee for putting on an amazingly successful event where scientists and engineers across Goddard shared their work and made new contacts. The interdisciplinary interactions were especially exciting and crossed all four science disciplines.

Click the title of this news item or the image below for more images from the poster party. scientists standing in front of a poster

Congratulations to Charles Bennett, Gary Hinshaw, Norman Jarosik, Lyman Page Jr., David Spergel and the WMAP Science Team for winning the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

Congratulations to Charles Bennett, Gary Hinshaw, Norman Jarosik, Lyman Page Jr., David Spergel and the WMAP Science Team for winning the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics on Dec. 3! The citation reads: “For detailed maps of the early universe that greatly improved our knowledge of the evolution of the cosmos and the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies.” The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner to recognize those individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. The team also includes:

Chris Barnes, Olivier Doré, Joanna Dunkley, Ben Gold, Michael Greason, Mark Halpern, Robert Hill, Al Kogut, Eiichiro Komatsu, David Larson, Michele Limon, Stephan Meyer, Michael Nolta, Nils Odegard, Hiranya Peiris, Kendrick Smith, Greg Tucker, Licia Verde, Janet Weiland, Ed Wollack, and Ned Wright

Congratulations to the many ASD members who were involved in the exciting gravitational wave and electromagnetic counterpart discovery of merging neutron stars, and the subsequent media activity around the discovery!


Scott Barthelmy - Gamma-ray Coordinates Network system
Eric Burns - Fermi gamma ray burst study
Jordan Camp – GSFC LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) PI
Brad Cenko - Swift PI
Tito Dal Canton - Gravitational wave localization maps; Virgo, joint LIGO/Virgo-Fermi-GBM study
Amy Lien - Swift follow up study
Julie McEnery - Fermi Project Scientist
Frank Marshall - Swift follow up study
Judy Racusin - Fermi gamma ray burst study, Swift follow-up study
Leo Singer - Gravitational wave localization maps, GROWTH follow-up study, joint LIGO/Virgo-Fermi-GBM study
Eleonora Troja - Chandra & HST follow-up, Swift follow-up study

Communications Team:

Elizabeth Ferrara - Fermi social media
Barb Mattson - Traditional & social media coordination
Sara Mitchell - Social media coordination & content creation
Brian Monroe - Animator
Frank Reddy - Cross-organizational coordination & writer for press release
Claire Saravia - Live shots
Amber Straughn - ASD Associate Director
Dewayne Washington - HQ/GSFC coordination
Scott Wiessinger - Video & multimedia
Amber Straughn

Congratulations to the Astrophysics Science Division scientists who are PIs and Co-Is on the recently announced Astrophysics Missions of Opportunity and Medium-Class Explorer missions!

  • ISS-TAO (Transient Astrophysics Observer on the ISS), a Mission of Opportunity proposal submitted to the 2016 Explorer opportunity, was selected for a Phase A study. ISS-TAO team members include PI Jordan Camp (663), Scott Barthelmy (661), Rob Petre (662), Judy Racusin (661), Brad Cenko (661), Frank Marshall (661), Jeremy Schnittman (663), Andy Ptak (662), and Amy Lien (661), Leo Singer (661), and Tod Strohmeyer (662). ISS-TAO is a wide-field X-ray transient detector aboard the International Space Station that would observe numerous events per year of X-ray transients related to compact objects. The mission’s primary goal is the detection of X-ray counterparts to gravitational waves produced by neutron stars merging with black holes and other neutron stars. Other targets would be supernova shocks, neutron star bursts, and high redshift gamma-ray bursts.
  • Rob Petre (662), Andy Ptak (662), Alan Smale (660), and Lynne Valencic (662) are co-Is on Arcus (PI Randall Smith, SAO), selected as a concept study for a Medium-Class Explorer mission. Arcus would study stars, galaxies and clusters of galaxies using high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy to characterize the interactions between these objects and the diffuse million-degrees gas that surrounds and permeates them.
  • Alan Smale (660) and Terri Brandt (661) are collaborators on COSI-X (PI Steve Boggs/UCB), selected as a concept study for an Explorer Mission of Opportunity. COSI-X is a balloon-borne, wide-field-of-view telescope designed to survey the gamma-ray sky at 0.2-5 MeV, performing high-resolution spectroscopy, wide-field imaging, and polarization measurements. COSI-X would map gamma-rays from antimatter around the Milky Way's center, as well as from newly-formed radioactive elements in the debris of stellar explosions.
The NASA press release announcing the selections is here:

Goddard Center Director Remarks on Passing of Neil Gehrels

"Our center has lost a dear friend and astronomy pioneer, and his spirit will always live on in our work, said Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese. "Those of us who were fortunate to work with Neil know of his unwavering enthusiasm for science and unselfish generosity in mentoring others."

Neil Gehrels Awarded $1M 2017 Dan David Prize

Neil Gehrels was posthumously awarded the $1 million 2017 Dan David Prize for "being the principal investigator of NASA's Swift Gamma Ray Burst Mission, which has transformed our view of the transient and variable sky in gamma-rays and in X-rays." Neil is one of three laureates announced this year in the field of astronomy. The Dan David Prize is headquartered at Tel Aviv University.

2017 Rossi Prize: Gabriela González and LIGO Scientific Collaboration

The 2017 Rossi Prize has been awarded to Gabriela González at Louisiana State University and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for "the first direct detections of gravitational waves, for the discovery of merging black hole binaries, and beginning the new era of gravitational-wave astronomy." The collaboration includes more than 1,000 scientists from more than 90 institutions around the world. ASD members are:

Scott Barthlemy
Jordan Camp
John Cannizzo
Tito Dal Canton
Neil Gehrels
Leo Singer

Two new American Physical Society fellows

Two Goddard civil servants were made American Physical Society fellows this year. Congratulations to Ann Hornschemeier and Rich Kelley.
Ann Hornschemeier: For outstanding contributions to the understanding of physics and the evolution of X-ray binaries in other galaxies.
Richard L. Kelley: For exceptional contributions to the development of high-resolution cryogenic X-ray spectrometers, and outstanding leadership of Astro-H Soft X-ray Spectrometer team research.

Congratulations to the HIRMES Team

Congratulations to the High Resolution Mid-InfrarEd Spectrometer (HIRMES) team on the selection of their instrument for SOFIA.

Rich Kelley wins John C. Lindsay Memorial Award for Space Science

Rich led the development of the Hitomi Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS), a technological marvel consisting of an X-ray calorimeter at the focus of a foil mirror. The SXS produced the first direct measurements of gas turbulence and bulk motions in the Perseus Cluster. The entire SXS team had contributions that far exceeded the sum of their individual efforts, producing transformational scientific results from exceptional technical achievements. The fall colloquium series will include the Lindsay Award Winner lecture, where you may hear more from Rich about this fascinating work. Congratulations to the SXS Team and hearty congratulations to Rich!

Intern poster session Science award winners

Congratulations to the 2016 Science award winners from the intern poster session: Lucas Tax (660), Austin Kim (662), Evan Frangipane (674), Anna Voelker (674), Michael Greklek-McKeon (674), and Robert Spencer (613). Colleen Hartman, Director of the Sciences & Exploration Directorate, presented the awards on Thursday August 4.

Science Jamboree event photos

The 2016 Science Jamboree was a great success! A collection of 50 photos from the event are available now.

NASA Selects Instrument Team to Build Next-Gen Planet Hunter

Congratulations to GSFC team members Mike McElwain, Qian Gong, and Ravi Kopparapu. NASA has selected a team to build a new, cutting-edge instrument that will detect planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, by measuring the miniscule “wobbling” of stars. The instrument will be the centerpiece of a new partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) called the NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research program, or NN-EXPLORE.
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