Astrophysics Science Division


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Displaying records 1 to 24 of 35.


Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)

The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) studies energetic particles from the sun as well as sources within and outside our galaxy. ACE observations contribute to our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system as well as the astrophysical processes involved. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provided detectors and telescopes for several of ACE's instruments. The mission launched in 1997.

ace 100 image

Balloon-borne Cryogenic Telescope Testbed (BOBCAT)

The Balloon-Borne Cryogenic Telescope Testbed (BOBCAT) is a technology demonstration to develop advanced instrumentation for astrophysical observations at far-infrared wavelengths. It develops cryogenic techniques as an enabling technology to improve far-IR sensitivity by a factor of 100,000 or more compared to current state-of-the-art instrumentation such as SOFIA. Cryogenic spectrometers, operating at balloon altitudes, have game-changing capabilities, but achieving this goal while remaining within balloon payload mass limits requires ultra-light cryostats. This project develops the ultra-light cryostat and demonstrates the ability to transfer cryogenic liquids at balloon altitudes.

Key Staff

    Burst Alert Telescope (BAT)

    With its large field-of-view (2 steradians) and high sensitivity, the BAT detects about 100 Gamma Ray Bursts per year, and computes burst positions onboard the satellite with arc-minute positional accuracy.

    Key Staff
      Diagram of the BAT
      Flight Project

      Calorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET)

      CALET will measure the high-energy spectra of electrons, nuclei, and gamma-rays to address outstanding questions including signatures of dark matter, the sources of high-energy particles and photons, and the details of particle acceleration and transport in the galaxy.

      CALET instrument
      Flight Project

      Cosmic Ray Balloon Instruments

      NASA scientists have flown several instruments on high-altitude balloons to study the origin of cosmic rays. The Balloon Experiment Superconducting Spectrometer (BESS), in partnership with the University of Tokyo, observes antimatter cosmic rays. The Cosmic Ray Energetic and Mass (CREAM) with University of Maryland, targets high-energy cosmic rays. And the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER) with Washington University, focuses on cosmic ray elemental abundances.

      BESS launch

      Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (CREAM)

      The balloon-borne CREAM instrument was developed for direct measurements of cosmic-ray spectra 1 ≤ Z ≤ 26 at total energies greater than 1011 eV to test models of cosmic-ray acceleration. A version of the experiment called ISS-CREAM is being developed to fly on the space station.

      The CREAM instrument just prior to launch from Williams Field, McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
      Flight Project

      Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

      The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is opening a wide new window on the universe. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light, and the gamma-ray sky is radically different from the one we perceive with our own eyes. Fermi is advancing our understanding of a broad range of topics, including supermassive black holes, dark matter studies, the physics of pulsars and gamma-rays bursts, and the origin of cosmic rays. The mission observes high-energy gamma rays over a broad range of energies as well as more focused gamma-ray bursts. Fermi was launched in 2008.

      Key Staff
        artist's conception of Fermi in orbit

        Fermi Science Tools

        The Fermi mission is providing a suite of tools called the Fermi Science Tools for the analysis of both LAT and GBM data. This suite was developed by the FSSC and the instrument teams, and was reviewed by the Fermi Users' Group.



        CFITSIO is a library of C and Fortran subroutines for reading and writing data files in FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) data format. CFITSIO provides simple high-level routines for reading and writing FITS files that insulate the programmer from the internal complexities of the FITS format. CFITSIO also provides many advanced features for manipulating and filtering the information in FITS files.


        FV: The Interactive FITS File Editor

        Fv is the easy to use graphical program for viewing and editing any FITS format image or table.

        HaloSat (HaloSat)

        HaloSat was designed to survey the distribution of hot gas in the Milky Way and constrain the mass and geometry of the Galactic halo.

        ISS photograph of HaloSat being deployed. Solar panels in the upper right are panels on the ISS.


        A Unified Release of the FTOOLS and XANADU Software Packages


        Hera -- Astronomical Data Analysis over the Internet

        Hera is the new data processing facility provided by the HEASARC at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for analyzing FITS format. astronomical data files.

        Flight Project

        Herschel Space Observatory

        The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory (formerly called Far Infrared and Sub-millimetre Telescope or FIRST) has the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. At 3.5-metres in diameter the mirror will collect long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel is the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre.

        Key Staff
          Data Centers

          High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC)

          The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is the primary archive for NASA missions dealing with extremely energetic phenomena, from black holes to the Big Bang. Having recently merged with the Legacy Archive for Microwave Background Data Analysis (LAMBDA), it includes data obtained by NASA's high-energy astronomy missions from the extreme ultraviolet through gamma-ray bands, along with missions that study the relic cosmic microwave background.

          Key Staff
            heasarc logo

            High-Resolution Microcalorimeter X-ray (Micro-X)

            Micro-X is a NASA-funded X-ray space telescope payload, part of NASA's sounding rocket program. We successfully flew the first Transition-Edge Sensor (TES) microcalorimeter array in space during our first flight in July, 2018. Our next flight to observe Cas-A is scheduled for September 2019. Our versatile science program includes high-resolution spectroscopy of supernova remnants and searches for dark matter in the Milky Way.

            Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

            The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a multi-instrument observatory that has dramatically changed humanity's understanding of the universe for over two decades, with dramatic images of stars, planets, and galaxies. Hubble orbits Earth; its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and reduces the light that reaches the surface, gives it a view of the universe that typically surpasses that of ground-based telescopes. HST's various instruments investigate the universe in the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared portions of the spectrum. HST was deployed from the space shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990. After that, the telescope underwent five servicing missions to repair or upgrade various instruments and systems.

            photo of Hubble in space
            Flight Project

            Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE)

            The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) exploits the polarization state of light from astrophysical sources to provide insight into our understanding of X-ray production in objects such as neutron stars and pulsar wind nebulae, as well as stellar and supermassive black holes.

            Artist's conception of IXPE in orbit
            Flight Project

            INTEGRAL: International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL)

            INTEGRAL is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission with participation by NASA and Russia to provide imaging and spectroscopy of the gamma-ray sky. The satellite observes the most violent and exotic objects of the universe and helps us to understand the formation of new chemical elements, the extreme conditions near the outer edges (event horizons) of black holes, and other essential astrophysical issues. ESA launched the observatory in 2002.

            Key Staff
              artist's conception of Integral in orbit
              Flight Project

              James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

              The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large space observatory that will operate in an orbit some 1 million miles from Earth. JWST will find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. It will also peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own solar System. Webb's instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range. The observatory was launched on Dec 25, 2021.

              Key Staff
                artist's conception of JWST in space