Newsletter No. 84, May 2004
  1. Notes from the Editor - Matthew Baring
  2. 2004 Bruno Rossi Prize Winners - Ilana Harrus
  3. HEAD in the News - Ilana Harrus, Christopher Wanjek and Megan Watzke
  4. News from NASA Headquarters - Paul Hertz
  5. Chandra Fellows Named - Nancy Evans
  6. INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler
  7. XMM-Newton Mission News - Steve Snowden and Phil Plait
  8. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith
  9. Swift Mission News - Christopher Wanjek and Phil Plait
  10. GLAST Mission News - Phil Plait and Christopher Wanjek
  11. HETE Mission News - George Ricker
  12. RXTE News - Padi Boyd, et al.
  13. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
  14. Meeting Announcements:




from the Editor - Matthew Baring, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer, headsec@aas.org, 713-348-2983

HEAD only delivers the table-of-contents for HEADNEWS into your mailbox. The newsletter itself can be found online at http://www.aas.org/head/headnews/headnews.may04.html.

The next HEAD Division meeting is to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from Wednesday September 8, 2004 through Saturday, September 11, 2004. The meeting will be held at the historic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. In keeping with traditional HEAD meetings, a broad spectrum of high energy astrophysics will be encompassed by the main sessions. The conference logistics will be handled by Eureka Scientific, with information available on line at http://www.eurekasci.com/, including abstract submission and registration details. The abstract deadline is June 9th. We anticipate a mailing of the Second Announcement with a preliminary program of sessions and invited speakers in early June; updates will be posted on the HEAD web site: http://www.aas.org/head/.

One focal point of the meeting will be a 'Modeling the Universe!' Educator Workshop organized by James Lochner (GSFC/LHEA Education Team leader). This will be a four-hour workshop for middle school and high school teachers organized at the upcoming HEAD meeting in New Orleans. Using resources from NASA's Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) space missions and sponsored by the GLAST E/PO Program, 'Modeling the Universe!' workshop will focus on opening teacher's understanding of the expanding cosmos beyond the solar system. Teachers will learn how to integrate this material to their curriculum, address national standards for understanding the origin and evolution of the universe and support student learning about the roles of models, evidence and explanation in science.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2004 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Attendance is limited to 50 participants. If you or a teacher you know would like to attend please visit our website at http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/teachers/model.html or send e-mail to itu@athena.gsfc.nasa.gov.

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2. 2004 Bruno Rossi Prize Winners - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

Harvey Tananbaum of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Martin Weisskopf of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have won this year's Bruno Rossi Prize for their role in the building and operation of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Chandra's precise mirrors and electronic detectors have enabled astronomers to make extraordinarily high-resolution X-ray images and measure the spectra of exploding stars, colliding galaxies, galaxy clusters, and black holes.

Tananbaum and Weisskopf earned the Bruno Rossi Prize for "their vision, dedication, and leadership in the development, testing, and operation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory," as their citation reads.

Tananbaum is director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Chandra X-ray Center (CXC). In this capacity he is responsible for overseeing Chandra's operation and providing support to the observatory's scientific users. Prior to becoming director of the CXC, Tananbaum was Associate Director for High Energy Astrophysics at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and scientific program manager for the Einstein X-ray Observatory. He has received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1980, the NASA Public Service Award in 1988, and the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership in 2000, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1976, Tananbaum and Riccardo Giacconi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics, submitted a proposal letter to NASA to initiate the study and design of a large X-ray telescope, thus beginning a 23-year journey which led to the launch of Chandra in July of 1999 aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

"Chandra's remarkable accomplishments are due to the outstanding teamwork of more than a thousand people in government, scientific institutions, and industry over several decades," said Tananbaum. "I am grateful for this award and view it as a tribute to all who worked on the program."

Weisskopf has been the Chandra project scientist since 1977, and is also the Chief Scientist for X-ray Astronomy in the Space Science Directorate, at NASA Marshall in Huntsville, Ala. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including NASA Medals for Exceptional Service in 1992 and for Scientific Achievement in 1999, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and author or coauthor of more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters. Weisskopf is also a Fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE).

"I am honored to receive this award and share it with my colleague and friend," Weisskopf said. "There can be no question that we two represent the hundreds of individuals that have contributed to make this a truly 'Great Observatory.'"

The nominal five year Chandra mission is expected to extend through at least 2009. The observatory was named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Known to the world as Chandra he was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century.

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3. HEAD in the News (November 2003 - May 2004) - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer, Christopher Wanjek, Structure and Evolution of the Universe Senior Science Writer, and Megan Watzke, Chandra Press Officer

This has been six busy months. INTEGRAL has released a couple of press releases, RXTE is still contributing to the cutting edge of science, XMM-Newton passed the cap of more than 500 papers published, and Chandra continues its extraordinary contribution to High-Energy Astrophysics.

We have started to track articles around the globe using web-monitoring programs. The search is keyword based so let us know if you would like us to track a subject close to your heart or your HEAD.

Various Items in the News:

May 18, 2003: Chandra and Dark Energy. Please note that the press coverage for this SSU is preliminary since it can take up to a week to assemble all the clips.

The newest Space Science Update, a Chandra result on dark energy, was extensively covered by the press. Soon after the press release, stories appeared on websites (spaceref.com , Universe Today.com, News.com.au. ABC online) before being published in the Australian media (The Australian, Brisbane Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, Melbourne Herald Sun, World Advertiser). After Australia, India took over with the Times of India and Indian Express. It appeared in the Pravda (Russia) and in Europe with Agence France Press, Innovation Reports, the International Herald Tribune, New Scientist, the BBC and the Voice of America broadcasting. It appeared on CNN international, U.S. CNN and the Discovery Channel. The major U.S. newspapers covered the story: The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, Newsday. the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Houston Chronicle as well as many minor papers including the Akron Free Press, the Indianapolis Star, the Long-Beach Press Telegram, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Omaha World Herald, The Pioneer Press, the Saint Petersburg Times, The State and the Winston Salem Journal. It is too early to measure the magazine (weekly, monthly) coverage. The story has already appeared on the Scientific American website. It will probably generate some more press in the days to come.

May 12 - 15, 2004: Beyond Einstein. From the Big Bang to Black Holes: A meeting organized at SLAC focusing on the intersection between physics and astronomy. The meeting was covered by the media with articles on Space.com, Sciencedaily.com. Spaceref.com, Brightsurf.com, Healthnewsdigest.com and Innovations-report.com.

May 11, 2004: XMM-Newton detects X-ray 'solar cycle' in distant star: Astronomers, using the XMM-Newton observatory, showed for the first time that a star, HD 818009, shows a cyclic behavior in the X-ray radiation emitted similar to the Sun. This discovery may help scientists to understand how stars affect the development of life on their planets. The result was published in a letter to Astronomy & Astrophysics and got reported by the BBC, Sciencedaily.com, Spacedaily.com, Innovations-report.com, SpaceflightNow.com, Rednova.com, and Eurekalert.org.

April 20. 2004: Gravity Probe-B is finally launched!: The long awaited launch of Gravity Probe-B was covered by the BBC, Newsday, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

April 5, 2004: Titan casts revealing shadow: The image of Titan's shadow on the Crab nebula was reported by Astronomy Magazine, Astrobiology Magazine, Aviation Week & Space Technology, BBC UK.com, The Guardian (London), Pravda (Russia), Spaceflight Now.com, ScienceBlog.com, USA Today.com, and Yahoo News.

March 14. 2004: Gamma Ray puzzle solved: The central regions of our galaxy, the Milky Way, as seen by INTEGRAL gamma-ray observatory solved the thirty-year old mystery. The INTEGRAL image revealed the individual sources that comprised the foggy, gamma-ray background seen by previous observatories. The story was covered by Astronomy Magazine, New Scientist, and Space.com.

March 8, 2004: X-rays from Saturn Pose Puzzle: The Chandra image of Saturn was covered by Astrobiology Magazine, New Scientist, Science Daily, ScienceBlog.com, Space Ref, Space.com, USA Today.com, United Press International and Yahoo News.

March 1, 2004: Intermediate Mass Black Hole population: A study on the Chandra data from nearby galaxies strengthen the case for an intermediate mass black hole population. The coverage of this story included Aviation Week & Space Technology, United Press International and CNN.com.

February 23, 2004: Movie of Neutron Star explosion: Using the NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, scientists have reconstituted a "movie" of a neutron star explosion. The paper authored by David Ballantyne from the CITA at the University of Toronto, was published in the February issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters. The story was reported by USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and Space.com.

February 18, 2004: A massive black hole ripping a star apart: Using both NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton, scientists uncovered the first evidence for a massive black hole ripping a nearby star apart. This result was presented as a Space Science Update and got considerable media coverage. In the U.S., newspapers which reported the story included: the Aberdeen American News, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Albany Times Union, the Appeal-Democrat, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Baltimore Sun, the Belleville News-Democrat, the Billings Gazette, the Biloxi Sun Herald, the Boston Globe, the Bradenton Herald, the Carlisle Sentinel, the Centre Daily Times, the Charleston Post Courier, the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, the Contra Costa Times, the Corvallis Gazette Times, the Dallas Morning News, the Dayton Daily News, the Duluth News Tribune, the Elko Daily Free Press, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Florida Today, the Grand Forks Herald, the Houston Chronicle, the Kansas City Star, the Knoxville News Sentinel, The Ledger, the Los Angeles Times, the Macon Telegraph, Men's News Daily, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Munster Times, Newsday, the New York Times, the North County Times, the Oakland Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Provo Daily Herald, the Rapid City Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Mateo County Times, the Santa Maria Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Tampa Tribune, the Times Picayune, the Tri-Valley Herald, the Tuscaloosa News, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Wichita Eagle, the Wilkes Barre Weekender, and the Wilmington Morning Star

The story was also covered by the international press in The Australian (Australia), Brisbane Courier Mail (Australia), Daily Telegraph (Australia), Melbourne Herald Sun (Australia), Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), World Advertiser (Australia), The Globe and Mail (Canada), CBC News (Canada), CTV (Canada), The Halifax Daily News (Canada), National Post (Canada), Toronto Star (Canada), The Epoch Times (China), Xinhua (China), Cordis News (Europe), International Herald Tribune (Europe), Agence France Presse (France), Times of Oman (Oman), Daily Times (Pakistan), Straits Times (Singapore), Independent Online (South Africa), News24 (South Africa), The Star (South Africa), Ananova (UK), Financial Times (UK), New Scientist (UK), The Scotsman (UK), and Reuters (UK and India).

The broadcast coverage shows more that 255 stories mentioning the SSU result appeared on Feb 18th and 19th. The major outlets were: ABC News, BBC News (UK), CBS News, CNN, CNN International World, CNN Headline News, FOX News and the Voice of America.

The web coverage included articles on ScienceBlog.com, Slashdot, Space.com, Space Ref, Universe Today, Wired News, and Yahoo News.

January 7, 2004: The Antennae: At the AAS meeting in Atlanta, Dr. Fabbiano reported on the Antennae, a pair of colliding galaxies in which NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered rich deposits of neon, magnesium, and silicon. This result was reported in Astronomy Magazine, Astrobiology Magazine, the Oregonian, Space.com, ScienceBlog.com and Innovations-Report.

January 6, 2004: A Galaxy's Fatal Plunge: At the AAS meeting in Atlanta, Dr. Wang reported on C 153 a galaxy, once like our Milky Way, which is being shredded as it plunges at 4.5 million miles per hour through the heart of a distant cluster of galaxies. In this unusually violent collision with ambient cluster gas, the galaxy is stripped down to its skeletal spiral arms as it is eviscerated of fresh hydrogen for making new stars. The result, based on data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, was reported in the Associated Press, Aviation Week & Space Technology, SpaceRef.com, Space.com, and The Guardian, UK.

December, 8. 2003: Evidence for an ancient galaxy collision: An image of an elliptical galaxy by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed a trail of black holes and neutron stars stretching more than fifty thousand light years across space. The trail of intense X-ray sources is evidence that this apparently sedate galaxy collided with another galaxy a few billion years ago. The study was reported in the New York Times and The Weekend Australian.

We also note the following:

  • Fresh Air Weekend (May 16, 2004): Featured an interview of Brian Greene by Terry Gross. Topics included string theory but also the big bang and cosmology. The interview was braadcast by WNYY in Philadelphia and all the NPR's radio stations associates.
  • CERN Courier (May, 2004): INTEGRAL's picture of the central regions of the Milky Way featured as "picture of the month" in the Astrowatch section.
  • Winston-Salem Journal (May 7, 2004): A discussion on the new space initiative and how it affects currents and future missions.
  • International Herald Tribune (April 29, 2004) and The New York Times (April 26, 2004): A story on how the Bush administration new space initiative is affecting current and future missions.
  • Scientific American (April 26, 2004): An article on string theory and current theories on space-time.
  • Science (April 23, 2004): Cover and special section on pulsars with articles by Schramm Award winner (2003) Robert Irion. Also review articles by J.M Lattimer & M. Prakash, R. N. Manchester and I. H. Stairs.
  • CERN Courier (April, 2004): Article on Chandra and XMM-Newton results on RX J1242.6-1119 and the first evidence that strong tidal forces from supermassive black holes can disrupt nearby stars. The "picture of the month" was an all sky X-ray map made with "slew" data from the RXTE satellite.
  • The New York Times (February 19, 2004): A story by James Glanz on a result presented at the "Sources and Detection of Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe" conference. The study, authored by Dr. Blanchard of the Astrophysical Laboratory of Toulouse and Tarbes in France, was based on XMM-Newton data analysis.
  • The New York Times (February 17, 2004): A story written by Dennis Overbye on dark energy and the current models for the Universe evolution.
  • Astronomy (February 12, 2004). Article on WMAP results and the implication on the different dark matter models.
  • Astronomy (February 2, 2004). Article on neutron stars and the link between their speed and the initial kick in the supernova explosion.
  • Astronomy (January 31, 2004) Article on an XMM-Newton image released that shows for the first time, light-echo from a gamma-ray burst.
  • CERN Courier (December, 2003): Article on results from a combined INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton study of IGR J16318-4848, a newly discovered binary system which most probably includes a black hole or a neutron star embedded in a thick "cocoon" of cold gas.
  • Sky and Telescope (December 11, 2003): An article on the newly discovered double-neutron star binary system.
  • CERN Courier (November, 2003): Comparison between spinning and non-spinning black holes using data from both Chandra X-ray Observatory and XMM-Newton.
  • CNN (November 21, 2003): An interview with Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell from the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). The page gets about 1 million hits per week.

Partial List of Links for HEAD Press Coverage/Images:

We would like to advertise a wonderful site. http://universe.gsfc.nasa.gov/press/2004/ contains press releases issued in 2004 on subjects linked to the Structure & Evolution of the Universe. There is a large overlap with what is presented below.

May 18, 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_051804.html

May 12, 2004 http://www.yale.edu/opa/newsr/04-05-12-04.all.html

May 10. 2004 http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMFALGHZTD_index_0.html, http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news/news/releases/2004/04-135.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_051004.html

May 03, 2004 http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/cdms_5-3-04.html, http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0415.html

April 29, 2004 http://www.lanl.gov/worldview/news/releases/archive/04-039.shtml

April 20, 2004 http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news/news/photos/2004/photos04-115.html, http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news/news/releases/2004/04-116.html

April 10, 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_041004.html

April 05, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-087.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_040504.html

March 30, 2004 http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0418ras.html

March 23, 2004 http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0406ras.html, http://www.ras.org.uk/html/press/pn0407ras.html

March 17, 2004 http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/Pr_5_2004_s_en.html, http://www.utah.edu/unews/releases/04/mar/veritas.html, http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0412.html

March 10, 2004 http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/04/040310.kavli.shtml

March 08, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-031.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_030804.html

March 01, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-025.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_030104.html, http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/fuzzball.htm

February 25. 2004 http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/press/pr0410.html

February 23, 2004 http://www.news.utoronto.ca/bin5/040223d.asp, http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2004/feb/HQ_04068_neutron_star.html, http://lmms.external.lmco.com/newsbureau/pressreleases/04.08.html

February 20, 2004 http://www.swri.edu/9what/releases/2004/rosetta.htm

February 18, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-021.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_021804.html

February 13. 2004 http://uanews.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/UANews.woa/5/wa/SciDetails?ArticleID=8610

February 04, 2004 http://www.rit.edu/~930www/News/viewstory.php3?id=1096

January 30, 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_013004.html

January 26, 2004 http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/article_detail.cfm?article_num=617

January 23, 2004 http://www.swri.edu/9what/releases/2004/suborb.htm

January 14, 2004 http://www.atnf.csiro.au/news/press/nstarjet/, http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/news/CircinusX-1/

January 12 , 2004 http://www.utah.edu/unews/releases/04/jan/cosmic.html

January 7, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-003.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_010704.html

January 6, 2004 http://www1.msfc.nasa.gov/NEWSROOM/news/releases/2004/04-002.html, http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_010604.html

January 5, 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_010504.html, http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/2004/blackhole.html

January 2, 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/04_releases/press_010204.html

December 8. 2004 http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_120803.html

November 21, 2003 http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2003/03-98.htm

November 20, 2003 http://www.urhome.umd.edu/newsdesk/scitech/release.cfm?ArticleID=843

In addition, there are several Chandra Image Releases:

March 24, 2004 Object: N49B http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/n49b/

March 01, 2004 Object: M51 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/m101/more.html#m51, Object: NGC 4697 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/m101/more.html#ngc4697, Object: M83 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/m101/more.html#m83

January 07, 2004 Object: The Antennae http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/antennae/

January 06, 2004 Object: C153 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/c153/

January 02, 2004 Object: RDCS 1252.9-2927 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2004/rdcs1252/

December 19, 2003 Object: N63A http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/n63a/

December 08, 2003 Object: NGC 4261 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc4261/

November 17, 2003 Object: GB1508+5714 http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/gb1508/

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4. News from NASA Headquarters - Paul Hertz, NASA Headquarters.

The Vision for Space Exploration

On January 14, President Bush came to NASA Headquarters and announced a new vision for NASA's future. The Vision for Space Exploration provides NASA with a focused mission of human and robotic exploration of the solar system. The goals of the Vision include (i) implementing a human and robotic program to explore the solar system and (ii) extending human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations. The science objectives of the Vision address (i) the effect of the space environment on astronaut health, (ii) robotic exploration of Mars, (iii) robotic exploration across the solar system, and (iv) telescopic searches for Earth-like planets around other stars.

The President has directed NASA to take a number of actions in implementing the Vision. These include retiring the Space Shuttle as soon as assembly of the International Space Station is complete, acquiring new capabilities for crew and cargo transportation, and a lunar exploration program beginning this decade. In order to implement the Vision for Space Exploration within a slowly growing NASA budget, NASA's programs have been prioritized and a larger fraction of NASA's budget has been redirected from programs that do not directly support the Vision to programs that are required to implement the Vision. A new Office of Exploration Systems has been established at NASA to implement the new vision, and a Lunar Exploration Program has been established within the Office of Space Science. The President has appointed a Commission (the Aldrich Commission) to advise him on any changes that should be made in NASA's organizational schedule; the Aldrich Commission reports to the President on June 2. Lots more details are available at http://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/explore_main.html.

The President's FY2005 Proposed Budget for NASA

On February 2, President Bush sent to Congress his FY05 budget proposal. Congress will be reviewing this budget during FY04 and will approve it, possibly with amendments and nominally by October 1. As noted above, a significant reprioritization of NASA programs has resulted in reductions in the planned budget for several programs of interest to HEAD including the Beyond Einstein Program and the Explorer Program. The President's proposed budget also includes increases for several projects in development. Details on NASA's proposed budget are available at http://www.nasa.gov/about/budget/index.html.

In the Beyond Einstein program: (i) LISA has been delayed by one year to 2013. NASA is working with ESA to keep the two agencies' schedules aligned. NASA will try to advance the launch date a few months to align the schedules. (ii) Constellation-X has been delayed until no earlier than 2016. NASA is looking closely at the president's budget guidelines to determine the optimal technology development program within the reduced funding profile. (iii) All funding for the Einstein Probes, including the Joint Dark Energy Mission, has been deferred indefinitely, which means beyond the 5 year budget profile. NASA believes that the science case for the Einstein Probes, and all of Beyond Einstein, remains compelling; we will continue to seek the resources necessary to realize the Einstein Probes.

In the Explorer Program, there are insufficient funds available to downselect two SMEX missions this fall and to issue a MIDEX AO in 2004. NASA is currently evaluating the tradeoff between the number of SMEX missions that are approved, a delay in those SMEX missions, and a delay in the MIDEX AO. The issue will be discussed at the July Space Science Advisory Committee meeting. A decision will be made later this summer.

Additional funding was provided to complete the development of Swift and GLAST, as well as to cover the launch delay of GP-B. The research and analysis (grants) program was level funded for the upcoming year.

Strategic Planning

As required by law, every three years NASA revises its Strategic Plan. In support of that revision, the Office of Space Science will update its Strategy and its Roadmaps. High energy astrophysics is covered in the Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) Roadmap. The 2002 SEU Roadmap laid out the Beyond Einstein program, which was subsequently approved as a new NASA initiative. The 2005 SEU Roadmap will be developed by the SEU Subcommittee (SEUS), chaired by Rocky Kolb of Fermilab. The SEU Roadmap Team will be chaired by Kathryn Flanagan of MIT. The SEUS will be meeting July 26-28 in San Diego. One of the agenda items will be planning for the 2005 SEU Roadmap. Information on the SEUS and its upcoming meetings is available at http://spacescience.nasa.gov/adv/sscacmeetings.htm.

Mission Milestones

Gravity Probe B was successfully launched on April 20. GPB was 40 years in planning and development. It will directly measure the effects of geodetic precession and frame dragging that are predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The launch and early on-orbit operations have gone smoothly. The latest mission news on GPB is available at http://einstein.stanford.edu/.

Proposing Opportunities

Over 35 proposing opportunities for space science supporting research, technology, and analysis are contained in the 2004 Research Opportunities in Space Science (ROSS-04). The ROSS-04 and all other proposal opportunities are listed at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/code_s.cfm. Some of the proposal due dates that are of interest to the HEAD community include:

  • May 28, 2004 :: Terrestrial Planet Finder Foundation Science Program
  • Jun 18, 2004 :: Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis Program
  • Jun 25, 2004 :: Astrophysics Data Program
  • Jun 25, 2004 :: Long Term Space Astrophysics Program
  • Aug 18, 2004 :: Astro-E2 Guest Investigator Program (Cycle 1)
  • Aug 27, 2004 :: Astrophysics Theory Program
  • Aug 27, 2004 :: Beyond Einstein Foundation Science Program
  • Sep 10, 2004 :: RXTE Guest Investigator Program (Cycle 10)
  • Sep 17, 2004 :: FUSE Guest Investigator Program (Cycle 6)

Advisory Groups

The NASA Astronomy and Physics Division is served by five community groups. These are the Astronomy and Physics Working Group (APWG) that considers the astronomy and physics research and analysis program, the Science Archives Working Group (SAWG) that considers the astronomy and physics science archives and data analysis program, the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) that considers the SEU theme program, the Origins Subcommittee (OS) that considers the Origins theme program, and the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) that advises NASA and NSF on astronomy and astrophysics programs. You are encouraged to provide your input on improving NASA's programs by contacting members of the community who serve on these groups. Information can be found at: http://spacescience.nasa.gov/admin/divisions/sz/index.htm (APWG and SAWG), http://spacescience.nasa.gov/adv/sscacsubcomm.htm (SEUS and OS), and http://www.aas.org/aaac/ (AAAC).

Opportunity to Work at NASA Headquarters

NASA's Astronomy and Physics Division is seeking an experienced scientist to serve at NASA Headquarters as a visiting scientist in high-energy astrophysics. The position offers opportunities to participate in the planning, development and management of NASA missions and in the management of the astronomy and physics research and analysis grants program at NASA HQ. The successful candidate will serve as discipline scientist to develop NASA Research Announcements (NRA's), conduct scientific peer reviews, and recommend selection of highly rated proposals for the research and analysis grants program. The successful candidate may be appointed as Program Scientist for NASA missions. The position also offers the opportunity to play a leadership role in developing budgets for major agency initiatives, program plans for science operations, and long range strategic plans for NASA's space science program that define the astrophysics program into the future. For details, see the ad in the May 2005 AAS Job Register at AAS Job Register Ad, or contact Lou Kaluzienski.

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5. Chandra Fellows Named - Nancy Evans

The Chandra X-ray Center is pleased to announce the new Chandra Fellows for 2004:

  • Franz Bauer from Virginia will be a Fellow at Columbia
  • Doron Chelouche from Tel-Aviv will be a Fellow at Inst. for Advanced Studies
  • Benjamin Maughan from Birmingham will be a Fellow at CfA
  • David Pooley from MIT will be a Fellow at Berkeley
  • Weiquin Zhang from UC Santa Cruz will be a Fellow at Stanford

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6. INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler, INTEGRAL Project Scientist

INTEGRAL is performing very well and we have witnessed a number of key events in the recent months which will be addressed in more detail below.

The 5th INTEGRAL Workshop was held in Munich, between the 16th and 20th February 2004. It was organized by the members of the gamma-ray group of the Max Planck Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik located in Garching and was jointly sponsored by ESA, NASA, DLR, MPE and INTA. It was an exciting week during which around 230 participants from all over the world, displayed and discussed their scientific results obtained by INTEGRAL during the first year of nominal mission operations. In particular the large number of young people attending the workshop was very encouraging. The proceedings will be published by ESA (as ESA SP-552) in early Summer 2004.

INTEGRAL has resolved the long standing question as to the nature of the diffuse glow of soft gamma-rays seen from the central region of our Galaxy. INTEGRAL observations have shown that most of the emission is produced by individual point sources. Results and more details have been published by F. Lebrun et al. in March 2004 (Nature, Vol. 428, p. 293).

Since November, four more GRB's have been observed in the FOV of the main instruments including GRB 040106 of 60 s duration whose location (within a 3.'2 error) and trigger time has been distributed by IBAS just 15 s after the event, a record of speed and accuracy.

Mission Status

The 3rd SPI annealing cycle lasted 15 days in total and was completed on November 26, 2003. The duration of the baking period was increased from 36 hours (used for the first two annealing cycles) to 126 hours in this cycle. The SPI energy resolution was fully recovered and therefore no residual radiation damage was seen in the energy resolution after one year in orbit. The post-annealing energy resolution was even slightly better than after initial switch-on.

Unfortunately, the counting rate of the SPI Germanium detector #2 (GeD#2) dropped to 0 counts on December 6, 2003. Despite several attempts the detector could not be recovered. A careful inspection of the data around the breakdown has shown that the counting rates of the nearby detectors 16, 5 and 0 were exceptionally high just before the breakdown of GeD#2. High counting rates were also measured at some neighboring detectors immediately after the breakdown. The input section of the pre-amplifier has been identified as a possible failure area. Even after a careful review of the electronic design and of the detailed signature of the breakdown by independent experts within ESA and CNES, neither an obvious reason for the breakdown, nor a design problem could be identified. At the moment a component failure is thought to be the most likely origin of the GeD#2 breakdown. The loss of this detector reduces the SPI sensitivity by about 5% (continuum), and by few% for line studies, possibly as high as 10% at 511 keV.

JEM-X operations have stabilized. In the last 9 months only 2 additional anodes were lost (out of 256 per detector unit) and the rate of anode losses is now considered acceptable. The JEM-X2 gain has increased by more than a factor 2 assuming that the high voltage on the detector was kept constant. However, to maintain the instrument gain in a narrower band, the high voltage has been lowered four times since December 2002. The effect of the gain increase is thought to originate in the area around the electrodes, but is not yet fully understood. Additional ground tests are underway with the flight spare detector.

The energy resolution of JEM-X2 has degraded from 9.4% at 22 keV to 12% since February 2003. This may be related to variations in the local gain close to the anode strips. Ground tests have demonstrated that the detector gain exhibits spatial variations after illumination by a strong source. The gain locally shows a temporal evolution, especially after strong illumination. Efforts are made to obtain updated gain maps based on the internal Xe-fluorescence line. However, these maps will only provide the gain correction averaged over a longer period and do not correct for short term variations (as seen after illumination by a bright source).

At the January INTEGRAL Science Working Team meeting it was decided to swap the operation of JEM-X2 and JEM-X1. Up to March 4, 2004 only JEM-X2 was operated and from March 8 onwards only JEM-X1 is being operated. In the period of the March Crab calibration both JEM-X units were operated so that suitable calibration data were obtained from both units.

Since the initial switch-on of JEM-X, six periods of instrument configuration can be defined until today. The response matrix for each of these periods is different. The quality of the available response matrix depends on the availability of Crab calibration data and whether these data were analyzed for the specific instrument configuration. Note that at E>10 keV the detectors are well described by the pre-launch specifications. Details are provided below.

An improved version of the IBIS on-axis response is currently undergoing final testing. The improved response produces good spectra for strong sources such as the Crab as well as weaker sources. Now that a reliable on-axis response matrix will shortly be available, as is needed for the analysis of strong sources, more emphasis will be given to the calibration of the off-axis response. The IBIS off-axis response changes quickly up to an offset angle of 2 degrees. It shows discontinuities for offset angles between 2 and 5 degrees and is flatter for larger offset angles. The spectral extraction is affected by this behavior, as not all features are yet included in the response matrix. Therefore, a series of off-axis measurements were made during the recent Crab calibration from March 5 to 7, 2004. A total of 50 off-axis pointings were executed to allow the IBIS off-axis response to be modeled in detail. In addition a 5x5 dither pattern centered on the Crab was executed to confirm the SPI calibration.

During the first year of OMC operations an increase in the detector contamination was observed. Recently, the contamination has stabilized. The OMC flat field response is unchanged and an outbaking of the OMC CCD is not required.

Science Highlights

(1) New sources and transients

At the end of November 2003 Vela X-1 was caught in a very bright outburst during a deep Core Programme observation of the Vela region (Krivinos et al., ATEL #211). The source reached a flux level of 7 Crab (40-60 keV).

A new source, IGR J06074+2205, was detected with JEM-X (Chenevez et al., ATEL #223) at a level of 7mCrab, using calibration data obtained in February 2003. Two new sources in another observation in the same month were found by Tomsick et al. (ATEL #224) using a new version of the INTEGRAL software (OSA 3.0): IGR J15479-4529 and IGR J16418-4532. Fourteen new unidentified sources were reported by Walter et al. (ATEL #229) in all-sky mosaics made from Core Programme data obtained between February and October 2003. First detection of hard X-ray emission (> 20 keV) from additional 17 sources were reported by Bassani et al. (ATEL #232) using the same data.

In February 2004 the Galactic Centre region once again became visible for INTEGRAL and the GCDE pointings started. As expected, several flaring sources have been reported over the last two months. The well-known transient GX339-4 was detected by INTEGRAL (JEM-X and IBIS/ISGRI) on February 18 in a bright state (Kuulkers et al., ATEL #240). The brightening of the source 4U 1724-307 on February 17 and 18 was confirmed by Bodaghee et al. (ATEL #241) with JEM-X data. Towards the end of February 2004 the LMXRB GX 354-0 was observed flaring in hard X-rays (Zurita et al., ATEL #248): a flux increase to 0.2 Crab (20-60 keV) was followed by a decrease over a period of a week to about 40 mCrab. Chernyakova et al. (ATEL #251) reported the transition to a hard state (using INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton data) of the ROSAT source 1RXP J130159.6-635806, close to PSR B1259-63. On February 7 it reached a flux level of 11 mCrab in the 18-60 keV band; an observation 12 days later failed to detect the source at a significant level. The source IGR J17544-2619, which was discovered by INTEGRAL in September 2003, underwent another outburst on March 8, 2004 (Grebenev et al., ATEL #252), reaching a peak of 160 mCrab (17-45 keV). This observation shows that the source is a recurrent transient.

Since the last newsletter, 4 GRBs and one SGR have been detected by the IBAS system. The GRBs were all quite long: 20 seconds in December (Gotz et al., GCN 2459: GRB 031203); 60 seconds in January (Mereghetti et al. GCN 2505: GRB 040106) and another long GRB in February, reported by Gotz et al. (GCN 2525): GRB040223; and 20 s (GRB 040323, Mereghetti et al., GCN 2551). The Soft Gamma-ray Repeater SGR 1806-20 has been active throughout March (GCN 2541).

(2) The 5th INTEGRAL Workshop

The 5th INTEGRAL Workshop was held in Munich, between the 16th and 20th February 2004. Below are some selected highlights from this most interesting week. The workshop opened with a session devoted to nucleosynthesis studies.

INTEGRAL results confirm previous 26Al detections in the Cygnus region and make it possible to measure with a much better precision the flux and spectral profile of the 1809 keV line. There are now hints of large-scale motions within this active star-forming region (Knoedelseder et al.). The first map of 511 keV emission obtained by SPI shows symmetric (about 10 deg in diameter) diffuse emission from the Centre of our Galaxy (Jean et al.). The emission cannot be explained by a single source. There appears to be no emission from the Galactic plane or from higher latitudes in contrast to earlier reports. The new data impose strong constraints on the production rate of positrons.

The next topic to be discussed in the workshop was that of X-ray binary stars. One very exiting result from the INTEGRAL Galactic Plane Scan (GPS) programme is the discovery of a new class of highly obscured X-ray binary sources which had so far escaped previous detection (Walter et al.). These new sources are mainly located within one of the spiral arms of our galaxy (the "Norma" arm) and are enshrouded in a "Compton-thick" environment.

INTEGRAL was also pointed at the Centre of our Galaxy. Goldwurm et al. reported on the discovery of a source, IGR J17456-2901, coincident with the Galactic Nucleus Sgr A* to within 0.9'. The new INTEGRAL source cannot unequivocally be associated to the Galactic Nucleus. But this is the first report of significant hard X-ray emission from within the inner 10' of the Galaxy.

Because of the strong absorption by the gas inside our Galaxy, it is difficult to observe extra-galactic sources located in the direction of our galactic plane. Despite this, a few AGN have been detected during the GPS and Galactic Centre Deep Exposure (GCDE). However, their numbers are slightly lower than expected. This difference is not yet understood (Bassani et al.).

After one year in orbit, a systematic and consistent analysis of the INTEGRAL/IBIS Core Programme survey data has been made (Bird et al.), incorporating data from both the GPS and the GCDE covering revolutions 46 to 120. Using strict statistical criteria 111 sources have been detected in two energy bands, of which 20 are HMXB's, 49 are LMXB's, 3 pulsars, 7 AGN and 32 are yet of unknown nature.

Terrier et al. reported the detection of 91 gamma-ray sources towards the direction of the Galactic Centre, of which 26 are new discoveries (see March 2004 issue of Nature, Vol 428, p. 293, F. Lebrun et al.). The few compact sources known previously to emit in the soft gamma-ray range were insufficient to account for the observed Galactic emission; explanations involving diffuse interstellar sources did not fit the observations. The sources detected by INTEGRAL account for the whole of the Milky Way's emission of soft gamma-rays, leaving only a minor role for diffuse processes.

Last but not least the workshop included a session devoted to Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). It was shown that the INTEGRAL Burst Alert System (IBAS, Mereghetti et al.) currently gives the best GRB localizations, in terms of both speed and accuracy. IBAS has the capability of handling not only GRBs, but also flaring events from Soft Gamma-ray Repeaters and known transient sources. At the time of the workshop 8 GRBs had been detected within the INTEGRAL field of view of the main instruments. These are all so-called "long bursts" (Kulkarni et al.).

The next INTEGRAL Workshop, the 6th of its kind, will be held in St Petersburg (Russia) in June 2006. By then INTEGRAL will surely have delivered many more impressive discoveries.

AO-2 Status and Long Term Plan

The AO-2 open time observing programme started in revolution 144 (2003, Dec 18). The first one and a half months were, however, devoted to remaining open time AO-1 targets (e.g., Cas A, SN 1987A, SN 1006), for which the corresponding proposals (all grade A) were carried over to AO-2 as they were not completed during AO-1. Almost all carried-over AO-1 proposals have now been completed. From the link on the ISOC homepage ("Scheduling Information" which can be found at http://www.rssd.esa.int/integral_webapps/index.jsp) there is detailed information on the executed revolutions, as well as on-going observations and observations scheduled in the near-term future (typically up to one month in advance).

INTEGRAL has already executed three TOO observations (GX 339-4, PSR B1259-63, S5 0716+71) and had a Crab calibration campaign in the beginning of March (revolution 170). As of now about 2.3 Msec have been spent on the Core Programme (GCDE, GPS) and 5.7 Msec on the Open Time Programme. The long-term plan is currently driven by: the Core Programme (GCDE, GPS), those AO-2 observations making up for the under-return of Nucleosynthesis observations during AO-1, as well as the (oversubscribed) region in and around the Galactic Centre. The AO-2 programme is concentrated towards the Galactic plane. The GCDE and GPS patterns are clearly evident, as are the dedicated observations of the Galactic Centre. Other deep exposures are concentrated on Cas A, the Cygnus X and Carina regions, PSR B1509-58 and the Sagittarius Arm.

When scheduling, it is intended to follow the long-term plan as closely as possible. However, the schedule may change, whenever necessary. For instance, in our long-term plan we have not yet taken into account future instrument and calibration activities, such as SPI annealing and more Crab calibrations. For more details please refer to the link "Long Term Plan" via the ISOC homepage.

AO-3 Schedule

ISOC has begun detailed planning for AO-3. The following dates and deadlines may be of interest to the scientific community (Table 1). The duration of the AO-3 programme will be eighteen months, i.e. until August 2006, in order to decouple from XMM-Newton AO's.

Table 1: INTEGRAL AO-3 Schedule

  • Release AO-3: 13 Sep 2004
  • Proposals due: 29 Oct 2004
  • TAC Meeting: 06-10 Dec 2004
  • Notification of TAC results: 03 Jan - 05 Feb 2004
  • AO-3 observing cycle: 18 Feb 2005 - 17 Aug 2006

ISOC Relocation to Spain

ESA's Science Programme Committee has recently decided to extend the mission until December 2008. As part of this decision it was also decided to move the ISOC from ESTEC (the Netherlands) to VILSPA (Spain) to benefit from co-location with the XMM-Newton science operations team. The plan is to assume full ISOC operations from VILSPA at the start of AO-3 observations, i.e. 18 February 2005. In the meantime ISOC will continue to fully support the INTEGRAL operations during the extended mission, and during the move to VILSPA. An important availability requirement on ISOC is to be able to respond in the case of a TOO event within 8 hours. This requires continuously available operational hardware so the ISOC operational system will be duplicated in VILSPA. Less critical parts of the ISOC, such as the development system and the science archive will be physically moved to VILSPA. Detailed planning for the move and liaison with XMM-Newton team at VILSPA are well under way.

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7. XMM-Newton Mission News - Steve Snowden (NASA/GSFC), and Phil Plait (Sonoma State Univ.)

XMM-Newton Mission:

XMM-Newton has passed a refereed-article milestone with over 500 accepted for publication or already published. On average, nearly one new paper per day with XMM in its abstract have been appearing on Astro-Ph this year, a strong indication of the community interest in the project.

The satellite remains healthy and the instruments continue to perform flawlessly. After a slight processing delay earlier this year, GO data are flowing again with most data sets available to the PI within a month after observation.

The SOC has released a new version of the XMM-Newton Science Archive (XSA, http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/xsa). The new version includes, among other things, the capability for on-the-fly reprocessing of observation data sets. The SOC has also initiated a user-supplied gallery (http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/external/xmm_science/gallery/public/index.php).

The gallery provides a wide variety of interesting images, spectra, and light curves along with explanatory captions.

SAS V6.0 has been released. This version has a number of internal improvements (e.g., the parameter interface) which are transparent to the user, however there are also some changes in the parameters of some tasks. A major improvement is that SAS now includes analysis tools for OM grism data. Some GUIs have been improved and there is now improved handling of some calibration issues (see the SAS release notes under: http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/external/xmm_sw_cal/sas_frame.shtml).

ESA has released the dates for XMM-Newton AO-4 call for observation proposals. The call will open 30 August and close 8 October 2004.

XMM-Newton participated in the 2004 Senior Review in April, and we anticipate receiving the results in June. Depending on the results of the review there might be changes in Guest Observer funding and opportunities (hopefully for the better).

XMM-Newton E/PO News:

The Sonoma State University Education and Public Outreach group has made an agreement with the team at Learning Technologies, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts to create a new planetarium show and activity set for their StarLab inflatable planetarium. The new show, tentatively titled "The X-treme Universe" will depict the sky as seen in X-rays and optical light, so that students can see the similarities and differences. It will also display images of well-known astronomical objects (for example, the Crab nebula) at both energies as well. A set of short exercises will also be created to help students learn about the high-energy Universe and how astronomers study it.

The new XMM-Newton Educator Ambassadors have given three workshops since November 2003 to a total of over 100 teachers. A poster describing the XMM-Newton educational effort was also displayed at the January meeting of the AAS in Atlanta.

The computer-based CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy; http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/physics/clea/CLEAhome.html) educational activity entitled "Dying Stars and the Birth of Elements" is progressing well. In this activity, students will use a simulation of XMM-Newton to virtually observe the supernova remnant Cas A, and get X-ray spectra of several knots of emission. They will fit the spectra by varying elemental abundances, temperatures, and densities to the gas. From the results, they will deduce various properties of the remnant, with the overall goal of learning about how supernovae produce metals. With a successful alpha-test under our belt, we have moved on to creating more detailed knot spectra, and adding them to the control panel. The exercise is scheduled to be ready in 2004.

A Supernova Educators Guide is being created in cooperation with Swift and GLAST. This set of exercises will use various properties of supernovae to teach standards-based science, math, and technology. The first activity is currently under development; it uses an Excel spreadsheet to allow students to fit the optical light curve of supernovae (1994J and 1987A) by changing the initial amount of radioactive elements created in the explosion. It's being created by Dr. Kevin McLin, who is currently working at Sonoma State University as an instructor.

For more information, please visit http://xmm.sonoma.edu.

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8. RHESSI Mission News - David M. Smith, U. C. Santa Cruz

The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) is doing very well during the early phase of its extended mission. A gradual decrease in cryocooler efficiency over the first two years has been arrested by venting the cryostat to space, and we see no inevitable hardware limitations to the mission lifetime (until re-entry sometime during the next solar maximum). A description of the mission and instrument can be found in the May 2002 issue of this Newsletter.

Analysis of the large gamma-ray flares of October/November 2003 continues. Many results will be presented at the AAS meeting in Denver on June 1 and 2, as part of the special session "When the Sun Went Wild". Even more will be presented at COSPAR in July, and a general summary of RHESSI solar results will be given at the HEAD meeting in September. Although no additional large gamma-ray flares have arrived since November, RHESSI continues to observe many smaller flares, including ones with particular value due to their position (e.g. just behind the limb, offering an uncontaminated view of coronal sources), to simultaneous observations by other satellites and ground-based observatories, or to other factors.

RHESSI also continues to capture cosmic photons from gamma-ray bursts, the decay of Galactic radioisotopes, and other sources. At the 5th INTEGRAL Workshop in Munich, RHESSI observations of lines from Galactic $^{26}$Al and $^{60}$Fe were presented; the latter, although only at 2.6 sigma significance, is the closest thing to a positive detection we have of this isotope (astro-ph/0404594). Next month, we will once again point RHESSI at the Crab nebula in hopes of imaging it with resolution of a few arcsec up to 100 keV. Last year we obtained only one day of Crab data before solar activity called us back to our primary mission; this year we hope to obtain about a week of data.

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9. Swift Mission News - Christopher Wanjek (NASA/GSFC) and Phil Plait (Sonoma State Univ.)

The Swift observatory is fully integrated and has undergone (and passed) various pre-flight tests. On May 17, Swift was placed in a thermal vacuum chamber for three weeks of testing at NASA Goddard. This is the final major test before two months of close-out activities and shipment to Cape Canaveral for a launch later this year. Images of the spacecraft are available at http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov/public/news/image/batonsc.html. A special Swift and GLAST session was held at the Denver APS meeting on May 3. The Swift team is organizing a special session at the September HEAD meeting. AO-1 GI proposals have been peer reviewed, and NASA Headquarters has made selections. Thirty-five investigations were selected for funding.

Swift E/PO News

With the Swift launch date quickly approaching, the NASA Education and Public Outreach Group at Sonoma State University is gearing up for the event.

A launch packet is being prepared for the press to inform them about the Swift mission, including information about the launch (vehicle, orbit specs, etc.). For the Swift team, there will be T-shirts, stickers, and patches. Plans are in the works for Education Resource Director Dr. Phil Plait to attend the launch and give a series of live interviews for NASA TV. Professor Lynn Cominsky has also created a press guide for Swift team members, to aid them in creating press releases based on Swift work.

The combined Swift/GLAST booth appeared at the American Astronomical Society meeting in January 2004, and has been sent to various local education and science conferences since November 2003. In that same time period, the newly-revamped Swift Educator Ambassador group gave 15 workshops to more than 400 teachers across the country.

The Gamma-Ray Burst Educators Guide - a set of three activities and an educational poster designed for high-school students, and based on the Swift mission and science - is in the final review stages. It is being professionally evaluated by the WestEd company, and is expected to be printed and distributed to teachers at national educator conferences starting this fall.

The Swift paper model booklet is nearing completion and is in its final review. Once finished, it will be sent off for printing. We expect it will be ready for wide distribution by launch time.

In some sadder news, after a highly-successful 38 year run, the "What's in the News?" (WITN) program is being canceled due to funding cutbacks at Pennsylvania State University. In the past three years WITN has aired several segments about Swift and gamma-ray bursts, including interviews with Swift team members. The WITN team has been enthusiastic and dedicated supporters of the Swift mission, and we hope to be able to include them in the launch festivities.

For more information, please visit http://swift.sonoma.edu.

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10. GLAST Mission News - Phil Plait (Sonoma State) and Christopher Wanjek (NASA/GSFC)

GLAST successfully completed the NASA Mission Confirmation review in December, marking the end of a sequence of successful reviews. Steve Ritz, who has been a GLAST Deputy Project Scientist along with Neil Gehrels, was named Project Scientist; Jonathan Ormes, who has been the Project Scientist, will continue to serve on the Science Working Group. Many thanks to Jonathan for all his key contributions to GLAST! Julie McEnery was recently named Mission Scientist. Josh Grindlay has agreed to serve as the Chair of the GLAST Users Committee, which will meet again August 9-10.

The Large Area Telescope (LAT) subsystem components are now in fabrication, and integration and test of the instrument will commence at SLAC later this year. During December-February, the LAT team, in collaboration with the Science Support Center, successfully held its first "data challenge" using simulated data, providing an end-to-end test of the science analysis software that is under development. The team looked at a day's worth of expected LAT data with a few physics surprises thrown in. A second data challenge, consisting of one month of observatory data that will include the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM), will be held next year.

At the end of May, the GLAST spacecraft will undergo its CDR at Spectrum Astro in Arizona, followed by the CDR of the GBM in June at NASA Marshall. The mission CDR will be held in September at NASA Goddard.

The GLAST team is organizing a special session at the HEAD meeting in New Orleans, September 8-11. The next GLAST LAT Collaboration meeting will be held at SLAC on September 27-29. The collaboration meeting will be followed by a one-day symposium on September 30 also at Stanford/SLAC, sponsored jointly by the GLAST Mission Science Working Group. The topic is GLAST and Ground-based VHE Observations During the GLAST Era. A SWG meeting will follow on Friday, October 1.


The Sonoma State University Education and Public Outreach group is still busily creating and disseminating educational materials for GLAST.

Since November 2003, the GLAST Educator Ambassadors have given 18 workshops, with over 1100 educators attending.

A public-level brochure describing GLAST and its mission has been finalized. The 10-page, full-color brochure introduces the reader to the science and technology of GLAST. Several thousand will be printed and distributed at educational, scientific, and public conferences.

A card game based on GLAST is in the final stages of development. Called "GLAST Race", the object is to build a space-science satellite and observe five targets before your opponent does. The game is similar to several popular card games currently on the market, and depicts GLAST technology, teamwork, and educational efforts. It has been enthusiastically tested by high-school and college students who have had a lot of fun playing it and coming up with variations on the standard rules.

For the younger crowd, the SSU E/PO scientific illustrator Aurore Simonnet is creating an active galaxy pop-up book. The book shows an illustration of the black hole, accretion disk, dust torus, and jets coming from the center of an active galaxy. The text is being developed in coordination with Sharon Janulaw, president of the California Science Teachers Association.

Progress continues on the SSU Robotic Telescope System (RTS), part of the GLAST Telescope Network. The telescope was installed at the Pepperwood Ranch remote site, along with a robotic dome and computer system. The telescope has been successfully used on-site to take observations, and the next step is to install internet access so that it can be tested remotely.

For more information, please visit http://glast.sonoma.edu.

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11. HETE Mission News - George Ricker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Now in its third year of operations, HETE continues to provide the observer community with prompt, accurate localizations of GRB sources. All three science instruments (i.e. the gamma-ray [Fregate], the medium energy X-ray [WXM], and the soft X-ray cameras [SXC]) are working extremely well. HETE is currently localizing ~25 GRBs per year, with 65 GRBs localized thus far in 3.5 years of operation (compared to 52 GRBs localized by BeppoSAX during its 6-year mission). HETE's localization sample includes 18 X-ray flashes (XRFs). Twenty-four HETE localizations have led to detection of an X-ray, optical or radio afterglow. Redshifts have been reported for 14 HETE-localized GRBs. The harvest from SXC-refined localizations of initial WXM detections continues to be particularly rich, with 14 of 16 recent localizations resulting in optical (or near IR) counterparts. Thus, almost no SXC-localized bursts have been optically dark: 87% have IR or optical counterparts. The HETE spacecraft and dedicated ground network continue to operate reliably and efficiently; several more years of service can be anticipated from both.

Despite the modest MODA budget for HETE, the Science Team is striving to make HETE's reduced data products available to the observer community in more usable formats. Fregate light curves and the results of first-cut spectral analyses are published to the HETE web page (http://space.mit.edu/HETE/Bursts) within minutes of reception of the full burst data set from the satellite. The automatic spectral fits are derived from triggered data from the Fregate instrument for bursts localized by the WXM and/or the SXC. The process takes roughly five minutes to run, and it begins as soon as the full burst data set is received at MIT and the WXM localization has been confirmed: the results for a typical burst are posted between 20 and 90 minutes after the burst, depending on the location of HETE in its orbit at the time of the trigger. At present, a cutoff power law is fit to the data, and the calculated values of Epeak, 25-100 keV fluence, and burst duration are posted, along with a plot of the spectral fit generated by XSPEC (to allow the observer the opportunity to check the automated results). Further details and caveats on the method are described at http://space.mit.edu/HETE/Bursts. The burst web page now also includes a histogram plot of the band C (30-400 keV) S/N ratio, which the HETE Science Team has found to be an excellent means of identifying true XRFs. In response to additional requests from the astronomical community, the HETE team is making light curves and results of spectral analyses available for the full set of localized GRBs detected by HETE, beginning with bursts localized in December 2000. The data are accessible at http://space.mit.edu/HETE/Bursts/Data: as of 20 May 2004, the tabulated set includes data for 64 bursts. As currently posted, for each burst the data set includes: burst name, classification, J2000 coordinates, redshift (if known), Epeak, t90, fluence (30-400 keV), light curve, and a sky map. A description of the relevant data sets and details regarding their analysis is also posted on that page; more exhaustive descriptions of the spectral and temporal characteristics of these bursts, including references, are being published in refereed journals.

The cumulative publications on bursts discovered by HETE have ramped sharply upward in the past year, with the number of GCN Circulars now exceeding 500, and the number of articles in referred journals exceeding 100.

As part of the HETE Education and Public Outreach (EPO) effort, a 15-minute DVD has been produced that describes the purpose of HETE, and the impact that its discoveries have had upon GRB research. The video is targeted for use in high school science classes; copies can be obtained by emailing Irene Porro, the HETE EPO scientist.

The editors of Science Magazine listed discoveries in GRB research as one of top 10 breakthroughs in all of science for the year 2003. The advances that were made possible by HETE that were mentioned included:

  • Connection between long GRBs and Type Ic SNe
  • Conclusion that XRFs and GRBs are related phenomena
  • Demonstration that many "optically dark" GRBs are in fact visible
HETE's contributions to these advances were explicitly recognized: "Teamwork was the key to these advances. NASA's High Energy Transient Explorer overcame technical challenges to spot dozens of GRBs and x-ray flashes and beam their locations to astronomers on the ground, where a global network of robotic and traditional telescopes swung into action. This rapid detective work showed that a mysterious class of 'dark' GRBs was visible in optical light after all, but only within minutes of the explosion." The full Science Magazine article is available at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/302/5653/2039#gammaray.

From the discoveries of GRBs and XRFs that HETE has made recently, it is clear that the spacecraft and instruments are performing at a high level and are producing outstanding science. In the near term, HETE is complementary to the upcoming Swift mission (launch in Fall 2004) in a critical way: HETE is ideally suited to rapidly localizing a complete population of XRFs and accurately characterizing their spectra, whereas Swift is not. Furthermore, HETE synergizes with Swift in four crucial ways:

  • HETE can approximately double the number of very bright GRBs at z < 0.5 that Swift XRT and UVOT can follow up: these bursts are crucial for understanding the GRB-SN connection.
  • HETE can approximately double the number of bright GRBs at z > 5 that Swift can follow up: bursts which are crucial for using GRBs as probe of the very high z universe.
  • HETE can increase by a factor ~10 the number of XRFs with Epeak < 5 keV and by a factor ~3 the number of XRFs with Epeak < 10 keV that Swift can follow up for X-ray and optical afterglows: bursts which are crucial for determining the nature of XRFs, the structure of GRB jets, the GRB rate, and the relationship between GRBs and Type Ic SNe.
  • HETE can provide bolometric Fpeak, S, and spectral parameters (Epeak) for HETE bursts that Swift can follow up: data that are crucial for confirming that the Eiso-Epeak relation extends to XRFs and for confirming strong GRB evolution with redshift.

Thus, the scientific discoveries that HETE has made, the critical ways in which it is complementary to and synergizes with Swift, and its low cost make a compelling case for continuing the HETE mission during the Swift mission. Currently, the HETE Science Team is awaiting the outcome of the 2004 NASA Senior Review, which hopefully will recommend the continuation of the HETE mission for the next 2-4 years, so as to assure the full scientific return for the important research areas in which HETE synergizes with, and complements, the Swift mission.

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12. Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer News - Padi Boyd, Keith Jahoda, Craig Markwardt, Gail Rohrbach, Evan Smith, Tod Strohmayer, and Jean Swank, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) has begun its 9th year of operations, and its high productivity continues unabated. The latest observing cycle of RXTE generated the usual high level of community interest. Released as part of the ROSS-03 through NASA Headquarters, the RXTE/GOF received 168 proposals for Cycle 9 time, and for the first time, requests for Target of Opportunity (TOO) Observations outpaced those for regular pointed observations. Moreover, demand remains high for the use of RXTE in coordination with the high spatial and spectral resolution capabilities of Chandra and XMM-Newton. Requests for coordinated observing with the higher energy capabilities of INTEGRAL as well as ground based observatories are also common. The list of accepted targets may be found at our Cycle 9 Recommended Program page http://rxte.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/timeline/cycle9_targets.html. All successful proposers at US institutions were invited to submit budget proposals. PIs should have recently received an email notifying them of the results of the budget review.

The recent Chandra Cycle 6 Call for Proposals included the option for PIs to request joint observing time with RXTE. We received 9 proposals for joint time. The results of these requests will be decided at the upcoming Chandra proposal review.

The publication rate of RXTE results remains high. Recent operations approaches have identified new types of targets which provide important information, but are sufficiently rare that doubling their numbers would enable important conclusions. Five millisecond pulsars are now known, but five is too few to say much about the neutron star spin or orbital period distributions. Seven black hole candidates (BHC) exhibit high frequency oscillations thought to be related to their mass and angular momenta, but more persistent observations will be required to confirm suggested explanations in terms of resonances associated with General Relativistic frequencies. Doubling the observations of both these categories would make a big contribution to RXTE science.

The RXTE Users Group (RUG) has recently proposed to the 2004 NASA Senior Review of Space Science Missions that RXTE operations be continued through 2008. Questions from the Senior Review panel were addressed on Apr 28, 2004 by Fred Lamb, Michael Nowak, and Jean Swank (all members of the RUG). A summary was presented by Fred Lamb. The text of the RXTE Senior Review proposal and the presentation slides can be seen at http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/swank/index.html.

Science Highlights:

Between the 2002 and 2004 NASA Senior Reviews, RXTE observations of several millisecond pulsars provided significant new information that greatly clarifies our understanding of the millisecond variability phenomena in low mass X-ray binaries (LMXB) and BHC. Uncertainties in the identification of LMXB neutron star spin frequencies are now resolved. Oscillations seen during thermonuclear bursts are clearly at the neutron star spin frequency and not one of its harmonics. Kilohertz QPO detections in millisecond pulsars have also confirmed that the spin plays a crucial role in the generation of the QPOs. The frequency separation between the pairs of kHz QPOs can be either near the spin frequency or half of it. Theorists are currently pondering the implications of these results.

In an example of the synergism of RXTE measurements with those from other observatories, Ian McHardy (Southampton University) and colleagues (2004, MNRAS,348,783) have recently combined long term variability measurements of NGC 4051 obtained with RXTE, with shorter time-scale observations from XMM/Newton. They are able to explore the power spectral density of this AGN over more than 6 decades in frequency. They find that the power spectrum strongly resembles that seen from the galactic black hole Cyg X-1 when it is in the ``high state." A bending power law fits the data best and from the location of the bend a black hole mass of about 300,000 solar masses is indicated, which is similar to that deduced from reverberation studies. The authors cannot find a unique break time-scale to mass scaling which fits all AGN, and suggest that the relationship must be a function of at least one additional parameter, perhaps mass accretion rate, black hole spin, or both.

RXTE's broad spectral band can be crucial for certain investigations. As an example, Jon Miller (CfA and NSF) and collaborators (2004, ApJ, 606, L131) have recently explored the Fe K fluorescence line from the Galactic black hole GX 339-4 using both XMM/Newton and RXTE. They find a broad, asymmetric line extending down to close to 3 keV. RXTE provides important constraints on the continuum shape above 10 keV which is important for inferring properties of the line profile. The authors suggest the broad line originates within 3 gravitational radii, supporting a rapidly spinning hole. In addition, the data support a steep emissivity profile close to the hole, perhaps suggestive of magnetic extraction of the rotational energy of the black hole.

Unique RXTE observations of a rare "superburst" from the LMXB 4U 1820-30 have provided the first real-time glimpse at the evolution of an accretion disk around a neutron star. David Ballantyne (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics) and Tod Strohmayer (NASA/GSFC) have used the Fe K fluorescence line observed with RXTE during the superburst as a probe of the state of the accretion disk (2004, ApJ, 602, L105). Time resolved spectral fitting using realistic disk reflection models reveals real-time changes in the ionization structure of the disk and also shows that the inner regions of the disk were disrupted by the burst flux. The spectral fitting also provides a constraint on the inclination of the system.

Look for a summary of important and timely RXTE science results in the forthcoming proceedings of "X-Ray Timing 2003: Rossi and Beyond", eds. P. Kaaret, F. K. Lamb, & J. H. Swank (Melville, NY: AIP) which is expected to be available the first week of July, 2004. Preprints of many of the proceedings contributions can be found on astro-ph. See also the link from the RXTE Web page at http://xte.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/whatsnew/papers.html.

RXTE Guest Observer Facility Update:

The RXTE GOF has had a busy Winter and Spring, working on improvements to make analyzing and understanding RXTE data more straightforward.

Improved Faint Background Models

In April 2004, new faint PCA background models were released to the community that correct a bug which caused a slowly increasing over-subtraction with time. Links to the new models, and details of their performance are available at the PCA Digest Page. The error impacts observers interested in long-term, high precision background subtraction, where long-term implies many months and high precision means small fractions of the mean background rate. At its maximum, the over-subtraction is less than 0.2 count/s/PCU/layer (2-10 keV).

NEW: Detailed Standard Products Delivered with Production Data

Starting early in Cycle 9 observations, RXTE production data now include a /stdprod directory that is filled with useful data files and products for each obsid. These include light curves from Standard 1 data, Standard 2 light curves in several energy ranges, a source and background spectrum, and response matrix, and background light curves. For each obsid the data have been extracted according to standard filtering criteria. Each product has an associated .gif file so the user can get an overview of the observation at a glance. For more information on RXTE Standard Products, consult our online Standard Products Guide.

RXTE Web site and Learning Center: New Look and Feel, Better Content

RXTE's Web site has gotten a dramatic new face lift as part of the HEASARC-wide switch-over to a new style. Information is still organized according to the same structure, but buttons now appear at the top of the page, color coded according to the target audience (gray for scientists, red for media and the general public). The GOF took the opportunity to greatly enhance the content of our "RXTE Results" page as well. This page now includes regularly updated links to all RXTE publications, including:

  • Astronomical Notices - All RXTE-generated Astronomer's Telegrams (ATELs), IAUCs, and GCN notices,
  • Publications in Refereed Journals - Now updated more regularly, and including every refereed journal tracked by the ADS,
  • Ph.D. Theses - As of April 2004, 47 young scientists have based their PhD thesis on RXTE!
  • Conference Proceedings & All Other Publications - Regularly updated for the first time, and including hundreds of links from numerous conferences and symposia.

A link to a quick search of RXTE results on the Los Alamos Preprint server, and a listing of presentations from the recent meeting in Cambridge, MA "X-ray Timing 2003: Rossi and Beyond" is also included.

There is also a link from our News box to the RXTE Paper of the Month---where we highlight an interesting and timely RXTE result.

The RXTE Learning Center also enjoyed an increase in content, with several new RXTE Discoveries added to the archive, and the addition of RXTE's first Music Video--- the High Energy Groovie Movie, a rocking tour of RXTE's Universe. The Learning Center includes lesson plans for teachers and descriptions of RXTE results written for a general audience.

RXTE Cycle 10 Schedule:

We encourage all interested scientists to consider submitting an observing proposal for Cycle 10. The anticipated schedule for RXTE Cycle 10 is as follows:

  • Release Date - January 31, 2004, as part of ROSS-04
  • Due Date for Notices of Intent - July 11, 2004
  • Due Date for Proposal Submission -September 12, 2004, 4:30pm ET
  • Proposal Peer Review - November, 2004
  • Start of Cycle 10 observations - on or around March 1, 2005
Materials to guide the proposer through the process can be found at the RXTE GOF Proposals and Tools page.

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13. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Martin Weisskopf, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Chandra Observatory continued to operate with excellent spacecraft and science instrument performance during the last six months.

Operations highlights have included the completion in January of the winter eclipse season with nominal power and thermal performance, the return to running momentum dumps from the on-board command loads, and the completion of an Aspect Camera calibration indicating an expected increase in warm pixels.

Chandra also successfully passed through the Leonid meteor shower in November; however an unexpected disturbance in the spacecraft pointing stability was detected during the passage that was consistent with Chandra having been hit by a Leonid meteoroid. All systems continued to operate as expected and analysis showed that there were no critical backup or other systems in line with the constrained region of impact.

The operations team has been carefully monitoring the behavior of the EPHIN radiation detector as the thermal environment has increased during the mission. The instrument was seen to exhibit anomalous behavior due to high temperatures but recovered once the unit cooled following a maneuver to a new attitude. In the immediate term, the mission planning team have adopted new constraints to avoid high temperatures. To mitigate against the possible failure of EPHIN in the longer term, work is underway on an alternate radiation detection approach using the HRC anti-coincidence shield.

The overall average observing efficiency was 63% during the last 6 months, somewhat lower than the expected ~70%, due to very significant solar activity in November resulting in an efficiency of only 49% that month. Since then the observing schedule was halted 3 times, either autonomously or via manual command to safe the Science Instruments and minimize damage due to high radiation; however there have been no stoppages since January. Chandra also observed 4 fast turn-around Targets of Opportunity that required schedule replans with response times ranging from less than 24 hours to 3 days.

Both the ACIS and HRC focal plane instruments have continued to operate well overall. The Chandra team has been expending a great deal of effort in studying the positive and negative aspects of attempting a bakeout of the ACIS filters. These filters are, as expected, experiencing a very slow increase in the degree of molecular contamination which in turn reduces the effective area at low energies. Numerous on-ground experiments have been performed addressing various issues such as the robustness of the filters after depositing contaminant and then temperature cycling, the impact on the charge transfer inefficiency (and hence the energy resolution) after temperature cycling, etc. In addition, detailed calculations are being completed that determine where, and how fast, the contaminants move as the temperatures on the various surfaces are varied. Once these experiments and calculations have been completed a decision will be made as to how to proceed.

The processing, archiving and distribution of data has continued without problem, and the average time from target observation to distribution of data has remained about a week. The archive continues to grow at ~0.5 TB per year, with retrievals having increased from ~200 to ~300 GB per month.

The Data Systems team released a new version of the CXC Data System (CXCDS 7.1) in December with updated tools in support of Cycle 6 proposal preparation and submission. Both the Off-Line and On-Line ground systems were updated at the Operations Control Center.

The observing program transitioned from Cycle 4 to Cycle 5 in December as planned, and is on track for transitioning to Cycle 6 in December of this year. 785 proposals were submitted in response to the Cycle 6 Call for Proposals and will be reviewed June 15-18 at the Peer Review. We extend our congratulations to the five 2004 Chandra Fellows who were selected in January.

We look look forward to the coming year with continued smooth operations and exciting science.

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14. Meeting Announcements

Chandra-Related Meetings (during June-November 2004)

Here is provided a summary of upcoming Chandra related meetings which may be of interest to the community. All will be prominently linked to the Chandra website http://cxc.harvard.edu/ as the time approaches. All are open to the community. The Chandra Users' Committee meeting is listed so that Chandra users can contact committee members if they have concerns.

  • Chandra Users' Committee Meeting June 29-30, 2004 http://cxc.harvard.edu/cdo/cuc/index.html
  • Galaxies Viewed with Chandra Cambridge, MA. July 7-9, 2004 http://cxc.harvard.edu/gals04/
  • Chandra Fellows Symposium October 13, 2004 Cambridge, MA
  • Third Chandra Calibration Workshop 2004 October 25-26, 2004 Cambridge, MA
  • Stellar Winds and Coronae Viewed with Chandra Fall, 2004 Cambridge, MA
  • X-ray Astrophysical Plasma Diagnostics Nov 15-17th Cambridge, MA

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HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, is issued twice yearly by the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer. The HEAD Executive Committee Members are:

    Comments, questions, or feedback to headsec@aas.org, Updated May 28, 2004