X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory (662) Local News Archive

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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 nasa.gov 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: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-proposals-to-study-galaxies-stars-planets

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.

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.

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.

Steven Snowden wins John C. Lindsay Award

Congratulations to Steven Snowden who has been selected this year's John C. Lindsay Award winner. The citation will read “For developing the first physically coherent picture of the Local Hot Bubble." This is an incredibly important discovery, solving the origin of the cosmic soft x-ray background after many years of observations and modeling. Steve’s search for answers has relied on multi-wavelength studies spanning the spectrum from the radio to the X-ray as well as on interdisciplinary studies combining astrophysics, heliophysics, and planetary science. He even included results from the Voyager spacecraft as it left the solar system. A recent breakthrough, based on additional information from a sounding rocket experiment, allowed the final pieces of this puzzle to be convincingly put together. The award ceremony and lecture are schedule for Wednesday October 7th as part of the Scientific Colloquium.


The NICER team has passed their Critical Design Review. Great job!

Goddard View

Read about making room for Webb's mirrors and decoding the rhythm of an unusual black hole with RXTE in Volume 10, issue 11 of the Goddard View.

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

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.

NICER team passes KDP-C review

The NICER team successfully passed their KDP-C review, allowing the mission to enter phase C/D. Congrats to Keith Gendreau and his team!

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

Congratulations to the NICER and TESS teams!

HQ has just announced the selections of the next two Explorer missions. Congratulations go to Dr Keith Gendreau (X-ray Astrophysics Lab) and his team for the selected NICER mission! This is an X-ray telescope dedicated to observe timing of neutron stars. NICER will be placed on the  ISS to observe pulsars to both determine the structure of neutron stars and to demonstrate their use as deep space navigation beacons. The TESS mission is led by George Ricker at MIT and managed by GSFC. TESS will make a survey of nearby stars to search for Exo-planets and will provide targets for JWST to observe and characterize their atmospheres, potentially finding nearby habitable planets in nearby solar systems.

2012 Robert H. Goddard Awards for ASD

Robert H. Goddard Award of Merit (Goddard's highest award): Bruce Woodgate (667)
Citation:  For exceptional career achievements in science and service to Goddard and NASA
Science: Timothy Kallman (662) - Citation: For his outstanding performance as GEMS Project Scientist
Eliahu Dwek (665) - Citation: For developing new, detailed, and observationally confirmed models of the formation, evolution, and destruction of cosmic dust grains, from supernovae to shock waves and star-forming regions.
Jane Rigby (665) - Citation: For using gravitational lensing to map a distant galaxy in unprecedented detail.
HEASARC Team (660.1) - [Team list: Alan Smale, Tom McGlynn, Bill Pence, Frank Marshall, Lorella Angelini, Dave Chuss, Phil Newman, Keith Arnaud, Mike Corcoran, Steve Drake, Steve Sturner, Laura McDonald, Ed Sabol, Craig Gordon, Bryan Irby, Pan Chai, Urmila Prasad, Michael Greason] Citation: For enabling new science results from NASA missions by providing high quality software for data search, retrieval and analysis through the HEASARC data archive research center
Safety: Curtis Odell (660) - Citation: For thorough and detailed investigation into the root cause of the laboratory fire in Building 34, Room C259, and his efforts to define and implement a recovery plan.
Mentoring: Joan Centrella (660) - Citation: For her demonstrated commitment to mentoring women scientists at all stages of their careers, which has resulted in a positive and supportive professional environment for all.
Outreach: Frank Reddy (660) - Citation: For outstanding dedication to public outreach through the media, including exceptional scientific writing and coordination with NASA video producers, resulting in high-impact Astrophysics press releases and features.

Goddard View

Swift is featured in Volume 8, Issue 9 of the Goddard View.

Goddard View

Maxim Markevitch's inspiration from a roll of tape is featured in Volume 8, Issue 8 of the Goddard View.
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