Astroparticle Physics Laboratory (661) Local News Archive

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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

Science Jamboree event photos

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

Neil Gehrels Elected to an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)

Neil Gehrels has been elected to an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Neil has enjoyed a long association with Astronomers in the United Kingdom who are partners in the Swift mission. In his role as the PI of Swift, Neil created these very successful partnerships.

Mark Clampin Named Director of the Astrophysics Science Division

Please welcome Mark Clampin into the key leadership position of Director of the Astrophysics Science Division. Mark came to Goddard in 2003 from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Mark has been serving as the James Webb Space Telescope Observatory (JWST) Project Scientist at Goddard since 2003, providing science oversight of the Observatory's design through the initial phases of integration. From 2012 to 2014 he also served as the Chief Technologist of the Cosmic Origins and Physics of the Cosmos Program Offices. During the last year, he participated in the development of the Advanced Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) concept as a Senior Scientist. Mark assumes this position with a broad range of experience covering the scientific, technical and programmatic breadth of the division’s responsibilities. We are delighted he is accepting this new challenge and we look forward to working with him as he leads the outstanding team here in the Astrophysics Science Division.

Sylvain Guiriec wins the 2015 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Astrophysics

The 2015 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Astrophysics was awarded to Sylvain Guiriec for his “insightful and innovative contributions towards understanding the nature of Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) prompt emission, in particular the establishment of multi-component spectra, and the discovery of a new Peak Energy – Luminosity relation showing that GRBs can be used as standard candles and thereby as unique cosmological probes.”

Klumpke-Roberts Award Winners

The Klumpke-Roberts Award of the ASP is awarded annually to an individual or individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Jerry Bonnell (661) and Bob Nemiroff (Michigan Tech) were selected for their work on Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Honorary Degree Awarded to Julie McEnery

On June 16, 2015, Dr. Julie McEnery was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from University College, Dublin. The award was given for leadership in Gamma-ray astrophysics and for bridging the divide between the ground and space-based gamma-ray communities.

Liz Hays Elected as a New Fellow of the American Physical Society

Please congratulate Liz Hays for being elected as a new Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). This is quite an honor -- only 0.5% of APS members are elected to be Fellows each year.

2014 Agency Honor Award Recipients

Please congratulate the 2014 Agency Honor Award recipients.

Outstanding Leadership Medal
Julie McEnery/661
Citation: For outstanding leadership of NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Observatory

Exceptional Achievement Medal
Matthew Greenhouse/665
Citation: For excellence achieved as Project Scientist to advance science technology and development for the James Webb Space Telescope instrument team.

Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal
Simon Bandler/662
Citation: For exceptional technology contribution in the development of X-ray quantum calorimeters with unprecedented energy resolution for future space astrophysics.

Group Achievement Awards

The Astro-H Soft X-Ray Telescope Team/Peter Serlemitsos/662 (POC)
ASD Team Members: Takashi Okajima (662), Lawrence G. Olsen (660.3)
Citation: For the development and timely delivery of the Astro-H Soft X-ray Telescopes, with performance exceeding mission goals.

Astro-H Soft X-Ray Spectrometer Instrument Team/Gary Sneiderman/592
ASD Team Members: Norman Dobson (660.3), Megan Eckart (662), Richard Kelley (662), Caroline Kilbourne (662), Frederick Scott Porter (662)
Citation: For the successful completion of the Astro-H Soft X-Ray Spectrometer Flight Hardware

Congratulations to Neil Gehrels, Al Kogut, and Ed Wollack!

Thompson Reuters just announced their 2014 list of most cited scientists, and Neil Gehrels, Al Kogut and Ed Wollack are in the list! In the "space science" category, they are the only scientists in all of NASA so awarded. You can browse the entire list at Search on NASA or other institutions to refine the list.

Senior Review Results

Congratulations to everyone who worked hard on the Senior Review proposals, and during the preceding 2 years to deliver great science results from our missions.

Congratulations to Julie McEnery

Julie McEnery has been elected as vice-chair/chair of the Division of Astrophysics in the American Physical Society. This is a 4 year appointment where she starts as vice-chair now, and will become the chair in two years time.

2013 Robert H. Goddard Awards for ASD

Science (Individual and Team Recognition) Elizabeth Hays (661), Aki Roberge (667), Charles Bowers (667)
Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity (Individual and Team Recognition John Baker (663), Jane Rigby (665)
Mentoring (Individual and Team Recognition) The Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry (BETTII) Team - Stephen Rinehart (665)
Outreach (Individual and Team Recognition) Amber Straughn (665)
Robert H. Goddard Award of Merit (Individual Only) Alice Harding (663)

Breakthrough of the Year

A Fermi science result from this past year was selected as a runner-up for "Breakthrough of the Year" by Science Magazine... congratulations to the Fermi team!

Goddard View

Webb Telescope, TESS, Dr. John Mather, and Dr. Neil Gehrels are featured in Volume 9, Issue 10 of the Goddard View.

Congratulations to NASA honor awardees!

Distinguished Service Medal
Jean Swank (662)
Bruce Woodgate (667)

Exceptional Achievement Medal
Mark Clampin (667)
Michael Ressler (665)

Exceptional Public Achievement Medal
Dale Fixsen (665)

Group Achievement Award
CSBF Antarctic Scientific Balloon Team (661)
SuperTIGER Balloon Team/John Mitchell (661)

Cutting Edge

NICER/SEXTANT and Super-TIGER are featured in Volume 9, Issue 3 (Spring 2013) of the Cutting Edge

Jack Tueller Passes

Dr Jack Tueller from the Astroparticle Physics Lab (661) in the Astrophysics Division passed away February 20, 2012 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Jack came to Goddard in 1979 after a PhD with advisor Martin Israel at Washington University, St. Louis. He successfully flew his own cosmic ray thesis balloon instrument as a graduate student. At Goddard he pursued gamma-ray astronomy and became a world-renowned experimental astrophysicist. He worked with Bonnard Teegarden on the LEGS and GRIS balloon spectrometers and became the Principal Investigator for GRIS in 1993. GRIS was a highly successful payload with 8 successful flights and scientific discoveries of gamma-ray line emission from SN 1987A and the distribution of positron annihilation line emission from the galactic center region. For these findings, he shared in the Lindsay award in 1991. Jack was recently leading the InFOCuS balloon instrument for hard X-ray focusing science. He was the Project Scientist for NASA's balloon program. He was also highly active in the analysis of hard X-ray survey data from the BAT instrument on Swift. Jack was an ebullient and happy character who was the life of whatever activity he was involved with. Jack will be greatly missed by us all.

Goddard View

Volume 8, Issue 11 - Dr. Eli Dwek and Dr. Neil Gehrels of Goddard, and Dr. Lynn Cominsky of NASA’s Fermi and Swift missions have been named as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The election of an AAAS fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.
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