Newsletter No. 81, November 2002
  1. Notes from the Editor - Matthew Baring
  2. High-Energy Astrophysics gets its First Nobel Prize - Ilana Harrus
  3. HEAD in the News - Ilana Harrus,
  4. News from NASA Headquarters - Paul Hertz
  5. INTEGRAL Mission News - Thierry Courvoisier, Chris Winkler
  6. RHESSI Mission News - David Smith, Brian Dennis
  7. HETE-2 Mission News - George Ricker, Donald Lamb
  8. XMM Mission News - Ilana Harrus
  9. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden, Martin Weisskopf
  10. Swift Mission News - Lynn Cominsky, Christopher Wanjek
  11. GLAST Mission News - Lynn Cominsky, Christopher Wanjek
  12. AstroGravS Archive - Joan Centrella
  13. Second X-ray Astronomy School - Ilana Harrus
  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.nov02.html.

The High Energy Astrophysics Division will hold its next Divisional meeting at Mt. Tremblant, Quebec (about 90 minutes drive from Montreal) on Sunday March 23 through Wednesday March 26, 2003. McGill University will act as the local organizers (Chair, Vicky Kaspi) for this meeting, with logistical support being provided by Westover Consultants Inc. (Contact: Gale Quilter, 301/495-7405 or gquilter@westover.com). High Energy Astrophysics is in the midst of a golden age, with the unprecedented capabilities of Chandra and XMM-Newton, the continuing new discoveries from RXTE, recent contributions to the gamma-ray burst field from HETE-II, the very recent successful launch of the INTEGRAL mission, and the development of TeV gamma-ray astronomy. The upcoming Astro-E2, Swift, Agile and GLAST missions offer dramatic new capabilities in the next ~5 years. At the same time, cosmic ray and neutrino studies such as Auger, Super Kamiokande, SNO, Amanda and long duration balloon flight experiments are making great advances. Discoveries and prospects in these high energy wavebands are augmented by continuing breakthroughs in radio, IR and optical observations of high energy objects.

The HEAD Meeting will focus on current results across the full sweep of High Energy Astrophysics but will also include sessions, in topical areas, which focus on the major questions and how NASA's proposed Beyond Einstein program for its Structure and Evolution (SEU) Division might address these. In keeping with traditional HEAD meetings, there will be no parallel sessions. In keeping with the mountain venue, there will be morning and evening sessions, with afternoons reserved for discussions, Posters, and special sessions which participants are invited to arrange and propose to the HEAD Executive Committee (Chair, Josh Grindlay josh@head-cfa.harvard.edu)

Logistical information on hotel options, hotel reservations, driving directions, airport transportation, abstract submission instructions, registration options, etc. is avaliable at the conference website (http://www.westoverconferences.com/HEAD). The Preliminary Program of Invited Speakers and Session Titles will be announced in December. Abstracts for oral talks and poster papers will be due by January 21, and the Final Program posted on the conference website by February 15, with the BAAS (published) abstracts to be available at the meeting.

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2. High-Energy Astrophysics gets its First Nobel Prize - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer.

One hundred and one years after the first Nobel Prize in Physics was given to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen for his discovery of the "remarkable rays" (X-rays), the Swedish foundation has bestowed the coveted prize to one of the pioneers of X-ray astronomy. Riccardo Giacconi was recognized "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources." He shares the prize with Raymond Davis and Masatoshi Koshiba, both cited for their work in neutrino astrophysics.

Giacconi was honored for work done almost exactly 40 years ago as the leader of a group who proved that the universe at high energies was filled with bright and mysterious sources, contrary to the general opinion at the time. His rocket experiment, launched in June 1962, detected the brightest X-ray emitter in the sky (that we now identify as a neutron star, Sco-X1, in a binary system) and discovered the existence of the X-ray background (a mystery solved only recently using deep Chandra observations). All this in less than three minutes, the total duration of the rocket flight! Interestingly, the rocket failed to fulfill its original mission, which was to detect X-ray fluorescence from the Moon.

The years after that first success saw the growth of X-ray astronomy and the recognition of its unique capabilities to probe the universe. Giacconi was at the forefront of all the following missions: Uhuru, which discovered the hot emission from clusters, and the Einstein Observatory, which was the first X-ray imaging mission. In 1981, Giacconi became the first Space Telescope Science Institute director, and in 1993, he moved to Europe to become the director general of the European Southern Observatory. He returned to United States in 1999, where he is currently the president of Associated Universities, Inc., and a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

This is the first Nobel prize given in the relatively new field of X-ray astronomy, and we can be confident it won't be the last.

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3. HEAD in the News (May 2002 - November 2002) - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

HEAD news coverage continued to be prominent during the past six months. We had coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and many spots on the internet, television and radio. Below are some of the highlights.

To keep the HEAD Press Officer abreast of media coverage of HEAD science, if you appeared somewhere in the news (in the US or abroad), please send an email to imh@lheapop.gsfc.nasa.gov with the subject line: HEAD IN THE NEWS. Please provide some details on the media (newspaper/radio/TV/Web), the research article which was covered, and the journal in which it appeared.

Various Items in the News:

November 19, 2002: First Positive ID of Binary Supermassive Black Holes. The announcement of a pair of active supermassive black holes in NGC 6240 was made via a Space Science Update on November 19. The researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics discussed how this black hole binary formed from the collision of two galaxies, and the SSU also covered the implications of this discovery for LISA and Constellation-X. Media coverage included CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and a host of other outlets. Press Release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_111902.html

November 04, 2002: Scientists Measure the Most Powerful Magnet Known. Alaa Ibrahim of NASA Goddard/George Washington University and colleagues identified the most magnetic object known in the Universe, the result of the first direct measurement of a magnetic field around a peculiar neutron star first observed nearly 25 years ago. The result, based on data from the RXTE satellite, was published in the November 15 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The story was picked up by the Scripps Howard News Service, CBC News, BBC News, Washington Times, Der Spiegel, Toronto Globe and many other outlets internationally. Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20021030strongestmag.html

November 01, 2002: Exotic Innards of a Neutron Star Revealed in a Series of Explosions. Amidst the fury of 28 thermonuclear blasts on a neutron star's surface, scientists using the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton X-ray satellite observed gravitationally redshifted absorption lines. This has allowed the first direct measurement of a neutron star's mass-to-radius ratio, as well as providing insight to the neutron star's equation of state. Neutron star EXO 0748-676's mass-to-radius ratio is 0.152 solar masses per kilometer, based on a gravitational redshift measurement of 0.35. This indicates that neutron stars are indeed made of tightly packed neutrons, as predicted by theory estimating mass-radius, density-pressure ratios. The result, published in Nature on November 7 (lead author Jean Cottam, NASA Goddard/ NRC), was publicized in several popular magazines, such as Science, Science News and Sky & Telescope, as well as through United Press International. Press Release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2002/h02-214.htm

October 08, 2002: Scientists Worldwide Race to Observe Fading Gamma-ray Burst. Scientists reported the detection of the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst just nine minutes after the explosion, a result of precision coordination and fast slewing of ground-based telescopes upon detection of the burst by NASA's High-Energy Transient Explorer (HETE) satellite. These and other observations are providing valuable clues to the mysterious nature of gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions known. This announcement was covered by Sky & Telescope, the BBC and Spaceflight Now. Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20021008heteburst.html

September 13, 2002: Chandra Finds Surprising Black Hole Activity In Galaxy Cluster. Scientists at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, uncovered six times the expected number of active, supermassive black holes in a single viewing of a cluster of galaxies, a finding that has profound implications for theories as to how old galaxies fuel the growth of their central black holes. The article authored by Dr. Paul Martini and collaborators appeared in the September 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The news was covered by Agence France Presse, Sunday Mail, and Space.com Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_091302.html

September 11, 2002: Rare Class of Exotic Stars Revealed as Supermagnets. Victoria Kaspi of the McGill University and colleagues found that a rare and enigmatic class of neutron stars, of which only five are known, are actually magnetars -- exotic stars with magnetic fields trillions of times stronger than the Sun's or Earth's. These neutron stars, called Anomalous X-ray Pulsars (AXPs), had defied physical explanation since the first such object was discovered in 1982. The newly exposed AXP-magnetar relationship was featured in the September 12 issue of Nature (lead author Fotis Gavril), based on data obtained with NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer spacecraft. The result was picked up by Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Space.Com, Spaceflight Now. Press release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020911magnetar.html

August 12, 2002: Bulk Source of Universe's Gamma Rays Possibly Identified. Caleb Scharf (Columbia) and Reshmi Mukherjee (Barnard, Columbia) have found evidence that the majority of the gamma rays outside of our galaxy are perhaps emitted by galaxy clusters and other massive structures. This may resolve a 30-year-old mystery as to the origin of the Universe's gamma-ray background. The results, published in October in the Astrophysics Journal, was reported by New Scientist and Spaceflight Now. Press Release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020812gamma.html

August 09, 2002: Balloon Above Canada Searches For Antimatter and Other Cosmic Particles. High above the Canadian plains, Japanese and U.S. scientists have harvested another crop of antimatter particles, in the latest flight of a balloon-borne experiment named BESS, which has flown nearly every summer since 1993 searching for evidence of an antimatter domain within our Universe. The story was picked up by Spaceflight Now. Akira Yamamoto of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Japan (known as KEK) and John Mitchell of NASA Goddard co-lead this international experiment. Press Release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020809balloon.html

August 07, 2002: X-ray Arcs Tell The Tale Of Giant Eruption. Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed the remains of an explosion which occurred about 10 million years ago in the galaxy Centaurus A. This discovery can help astronomers better understand the cause and effect of violent outbursts from the vicinity of supermassive black holes in the centers of many so-called "active" galaxies. The result presented by the lead author, Margarita Karovska (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), at a meeting in China was published in the September 20, 2002, issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The image made the front page of the international edition of USA Today, and was covered by The Mirror, CNN.com, and Space.com Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_080702.html

July 24, 2002: Scientists Visualize Waves in Space Caused by Mergers of Black Holes. At the Fourth International LISA Symposium on gravitational radiation at Penn State University in July, scientists presented a new computer model depicting the gravitational radiation to be expected from merging black holes. This is the first computer model of such a merger based on Einstein's equations. A review article appears in Physical Review D by the "Lazarus Team": John Baker of NASA Goddard / NRC, Manuela Campanelli and Carlos Lousto of the University of Texas at Brownsville, and Ryoji Takahashi of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center in Copenhagen. The science was publicized in New Scientists and on several web pages. Press Release: http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Finn7-2002-2.htm

July 23, 2002: Dwarf Galaxy Gives Universe A Breath of Fresh Oxygen. Astronomers discovered that a nearby dwarf galaxy is spewing oxygen and other "heavy" elements into intergalactic space. This observation from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory supports the idea that dwarf galaxies may be responsible for most of the heavy elements between the galaxies. The team led by Crystal Martin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, observed the dwarf galaxy NGC 1569 and found that huge quantities of oxygen and other heavy elements are escaping from the galaxy. The result, to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, could help explain how the intergalactic gas get enriched in heavy elements. The discovery was covered by States News Service, New Scientist, CNN.com, and Space.com. Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_072302.html

June 26, 2002: Scientists Observe Light Fighting to Escape Black Hole's Pull. With a combination of XMM and Chandra, a team led by Jane Turner of NASA Goddard / UMBC found new evidence that light emanating from near a black hole loses energy climbing out of a gravitational well. The team observed a very complex profile for the iron K line in NGC 3516. This line showed narrow spikes, likely the Doppler peaks from hotspots in the accretion disk lit up by flaring at 35- and 175-times the black hole radius. These narrow features sit atop a broad line component from light across the entire accretion disk, a spectral feature broadened by gravity's pull. The result is featured in many news outlets, including New Scientist, Astronomy, Mercury, UPI and other news services in Europe and Asia. Press Release: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2002/02-103.htm

June 25, 2002: Energetic Ring Shows Way To Discovery Of Pulsar "Bulls-Eye." Astronomers from the University of Massachusetts and Columbia University found the "bulls-eye" pulsar in a bright ring of high-energy particles in a distant supernova remnant. This discovery, made with and the Arecibo Radio Telescope, will help scientists better understand how neutron stars channel enormous amounts of energy into particles moving near the speed of light. The result was covered by Aviation Week & Space Technology and Space.com Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_062502.html

June 06, 2002: Astronomers Use X-Rays To Probe Gravitational Field Of A Neutron Star. Using Chandra observations of a relatively nearby neutron star, a team of astronomers led by George Pavlov (Penn State University) detected features that may be the first direct evidence of the effect of gravity on radiation from a neutron star. This finding, if confirmed, could enable scientists to measure the gravitational field of neutron stars and determine whether they contain exotic forms of matter not seen on Earth. The results were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Albuquerque, NM and was reported by United Press International and the Dallas Morning News Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_060602.html

June 04, 2002: Black Holes In Distant Galaxies Point To Wild Youth. Analyzing Chandra data on three elliptical galaxies, Craig Sarazin (University of Virginia) and his colleagues, discovered large numbers of neutron stars and black holes. These findings suggest that some of these galaxies lived through a much wilder youth and may require a revision of how elliptical galaxies evolved. The results were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Albuquerque, NM and was reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and United Press International. Press release: http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/02_releases/press_060402.html

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

Roadmaps and Strategic Plans: Beyond Einstein

All of NASA, including the Office of Space Science (OSS), is busy updating our strategic plans.  We are required by law to do so every three years.  As part of this process, the Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU) science theme (which includes high-energy astrophysics) has developed a new roadmap.  The SEU roadmap is responsive to recent National Academy of Sciences surveys (McKee-Taylor Decadal Survey, Turner Committee Report) and is based on extensive community input.  This roadmap identifies the science priorities in the SEU theme, prioritizes them, and lays out a program of near-term missions required to address the highest priority objectives.  The roadmap describes a coherent near-term science program for SEU called "Beyond Einstein".

The Beyond Einstein Program addresses three questions that are science driven yet can be understood by non-scientists as well: What powered the Big Bang?
What happens to space, time, and matter at the edge of a black hole?
What is the mysterious dark energy pulling the Universe apart?
Beyond Einstein includes missions, technology development, research & analysis programs, and education & public outreach.  The missions required to address the Beyond Einstein questions include two Einstein Great Observatories (Con-X and LISA) and a line of moderate sized ($350-500M), fully competed, PI-class missions (Dark Energy Probe, Inflation Probe, Black Hole Finder Probe).

It is important to note that Beyond Einstein is a proposed new program.  Neither the Beyond Einstein Program nor the Beyond Einstein missions are currently approved and in the NASA budget.  It will require the support of the entire science community to achieve approval for this major new initiative.  NASA is moving forward with preparations for Beyond Einstein.  These include a focused technology program for LISA and Con-X, a technology readiness review this winter for Con-X and LISA, and planning for competed mission concept studies for the Einstein Probes.

Beyond Einstein was presented at the Space Science Strategic Planning Workshop in November 2002.  It was favorably received, and NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science Ed Weiler has declared it to be his highest priority for a new science initiative.  The Beyond Einstein roadmap document has been finalized and is being printed.  It will be available at the Seattle AAS meeting.  The Beyond Einstein roadmap will be available soon at the SEU homepage, http://universe.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

The SEU Roadmap team developed the roadmap for the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS).  NASA and the community owe a great deal of thanks to this team, especially its chair Sterl Phinney (Caltech), for the work they have done over the past 15 months.

New Faces at NASA Headquarters

In November, Nick White (GSFC) began a six-month detail at NASA Headquarters.  Nick will be working with Astronomy & Physics Division Director Anne Kinney and SEU Theme Scientist Paul Hertz on planning for Beyond Einstein.  Nick is a welcome but temporary addition to the NASA Headquarters staff.

During July through September, Don Kniffen took a break from his visiting scientist position at NASA Headquarters.  Mark Strickman (NRL) ably filled in on a part time detail during this period.

Mission News

INTEGRAL was successfully launched by ESA on October 17, 2002.  The next 12 months will be a busy time for NASA astrophysics launches.  Over the next 12 months, there will be five launches (CHIPS, December 2002; SIRTF, January 2003; GALEX, April 2003; GP-B, Summer, 2003; Swift, November 2003).  

Small Explorer Selections and Solicitations

In early July, the downselection process for SMEX 8 and SMEX 9 was completed.  The two missions selected to proceed with development toward flight are SPIDR (Spectroscopy and Photometry of IGM's Diffuse Radiation; PI Supriya Chakrabarti, Boston University), a mission to map the "cosmic web" and detect the hidden baryons in the universe, and AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere; PI James Russell III, Hampton University), a mission to determine the causes of the highest altitude clouds in the Earth's atmosphere.  Further information can be found at the missions' homepages, http://www.bu.edu/SPIDR/ and http://www.hamptonu.edu/science/physics/CAS/aim/aim.html.

The next Explorer Announcement of Opportunity is scheduled to be released in February 2003.  The AO will solicit proposals for SMEX 10 and SMEX 11 as well as Missions of Opportunity.  A draft AO was released in August and can be found at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/nra/current/AO-02-OSS-XX/index.html.

Results from the Senior Review

In June 2002, NASA conducted a Senior Review of its operating astrophysics missions.  This biannual review provides NASA with information useful for allocating the limited mission operations funding toward the suite of operating missions.  Based on the report of the Senior Review, NASA made the following decisions:

  • 2MASS: Approve the delivery of additional data products by FY04, then terminate project.
  • FUSE: Approve an extended mission through FY04, provide guidelines for reduced mission operations costs through FY06, revisit cost guidelines at 2004 Senior Review.
  • HETE-2: Terminate mission in FY04 after Swift launch.
  • MAP: Approve extended mission for two years, revisit further extensions at 2004 Senior Review.
  • RXTE: Approve extended mission through FY04, provide guidelines for reduced mission operations through FY05, revisit termination decision at 2004 Senior Review.
  • SWAS: Terminate mission after FY03.
  • XMM: Approve funding level for US participation.
The full report may be found on the Astronomy and Physics Division homepage at http://spacescience.nasa.gov/admin/divisions/sz/index.htm.

Upcoming Proposal Opportunities

As has been the pattern for the past few years, most NASA space science research grants will be awarded through the omnibus Research in Space Science 2003 (ROSS-03) NASA research announcement.  ROSS-03 is scheduled to be released at the end of January 2003.  It will contain over 35 separate research elements with proposal due dates throughout 2003. 

There will be two major structural changes in the way astronomy and physics grants are solicited in 2003.  First, all of the supporting research and technology grant programs will be combined into a single research program.  The high energy astrophysics and cosmic ray physics programs will be combined with the space astrophysics research and analysis program to create the space astronomy and physics research and analysis program.  There will be a single proposal due date for astrophysics grants spanning all of space astronomy and physics.  Second, regular general observer/guest investigator programs will be solicited through the ROSS-03.  This began late last year when RXTE Cycle 8 proposals were solicited as an amendment to ROSS-02.  This year, both RXTE and FUSE observing proposals will be solicited through ROSS-03.  For complete details, the ROSS-03 should be read carefully when it is released.

Anticipated research opportunities and proposal deadlines for 2003 in astrophysics include:
   24 Jan 03 :: HST Cycle 12
   Mar 03 :: Chandra Cycle 5
   Apr 03 :: Space Astronomy & Physics Research and Analysis
   May 03 :: SMEX and Missions of Opportunity
   Jun 03 :: SIRTF Cycle 1
   Jul 03 :: Astrophysics Data Program
   Jul 03 :: Long Term Space Astrophysics Program
   Aug 03 :: Astrophysics Theory Program
   Oct 03 :: FUSE Cycle 5
   Nov 03 :: RXTE Cycle 9
   Dec 03 :: Swift Cycle 1

The HST Cycle 12 call for Proposals has already been released.  All other solicitations are anticipated, and the proposal due dates are estimates.  You must read the proposal solicitations carefully when they are released and follow all submission requirements.  All NASA space science research opportunities are available at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/code_s.cfm.

The NASA Office of Space Science provides electronic notification of all research opportunity solicitations.  If you are not already signed up (and over 5,000 users are), you may sign up at http://research.hq.nasa.gov/code_s/listserv.cfm.

Community Input to NASA Headquarters

The NASA Office of Space Science has a network of advisory committees and working groups.  These committees provide NASA with the community input that is required to manage a space science program that is responsive to the needs and priorities of the space science community.  The Astronomy and Physics Division has two headquarters-chartered advisory committees and two working groups.  These are in addition to a large number of project and mission specific science working groups, science definition teams, and users groups. 

The headquarters committees are (i) the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS), which provides strategic advice on the SEU science program, (ii) the Origins Subcommittee (OS), which provides strategic advice on the Origins program, (iii) the Astronomy and Physics Working Group (APWG), which provides tactical findings on the astrophysics research program, and (iv) the Science Archives Working Group (SAWG), which provides tactical findings on astrophysics science data management.

Meeting agendas, meeting reports, and membership lists from these committees may be found on the Space Science Subcommittees page (http://spacescience.nasa.gov/adv/sscacsubcomm.htm) and on the Astronomy and Physics Division homepage  (http://spacescience.nasa.gov/admin/divisions/sz/index.htm).

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5. INTEGRAL Mission News - Thierry Courvoisier, ISDC PI and Chris Winkler, INTEGRAL Project Scientist

INTEGRAL Launched successfully: status report, 27 November, 2002.

On October 17 at 4:41UT a PROTON rocket lifted ESA's INTEGRAL satellite into orbit. The Russian four-stage PROTON launcher performed flawlessly and injected the spacecraft into its orbit with highest precision. The spacecraft separated from the upper stage as planned. Four perigee raise manoeuvres and one apogee adjust manoeuvre by the on-board propulsion system delivered the spacecraft exactly into the defined operational geosynchronous 3-day orbit with (initial) perigee height: 9050 km, apogee height: 153657 km, inclination 52.2 deg. The amount of on-board fuel left for attittude control and orbit maintenance will cover the design life (5 years) with ample margin.

The spacecraft has completed the Launch and Early Operations Phase as planned two weeks after launch. All spacecraft functions have been verified, the subsystems are working nominally, full redundancy is maintained. The in-orbit slew performance is over-performing, i.e. large angle slews significantly exceed the predicted post-slew pointing accuracy. This is good news for the observing efficiency.

The data are routed from the satellite to the mission operations centre located at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt (Germany) where the instrument teams have been able to conduct and follow the instruments set-up. The data are also routed to the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre (ISDC) in Versoix near Geneva where they are processed and made available for the instrument teams and later for the observers. The data arrived at the ISDC from the acquisition of signal onward and the ISDC subsystems were put on line during the first morning and have run fine since then. As soon as instrument data have become available it was possible to deconvolve them and to demonstrate thus the functionality of the data processing. The Missions Operations Centre ESOC is now moving from early manual commanding to the baseline automatic command timeline using schedule input from the INTEGRAL Science Operations Centre at ESTEC.

INTEGRAL has in the first 4 weeks observed mostly blanck fields to optimise the instruments and the background rejection. The performance and verification phase began as planned mid-November and first data by all instruments on Cygnus X-1 have been obtained. Earlier commissioning phase pointings for JEM-X were at Cen X-3 and LMC. The veto-system of SPI is observing about on GRB/day, contributing to the IPN network (GCN #1703). Calibrations will continue for another few weeks until the end of the year. The nominal observing programme should start as planned in revolution 25 on 27 December when INTEGRAL will be pointing at SN 1987A. The Crab, our main calibration source, is, however observable in February only due to solar constraints. We will therefore finalise the response measurements then.

INTEGRAL will perform high spectral resolution measurements in the gamma ray domain with SPI (PIs J.-P. Roques of the CESR in Toulouse and V. Schoenfelder of MPE in Garching), high angular resolution measurements in the hard X-ray and gamma ray domains with the Imager (PI P. Ubertini of IAS in Rome, Co-PIs F. Lebrun of CEA in Saclay and G. di Cocco TESRE in Bologna), while monitoring the sources in the X-rays with JEM-X (PI N. Lund of DSRI in Copenhagen) and in the optical domain with the OMC (PI M. Mas-Hesse of LAEFF in Vilspa). INTEGRAL is an ESA mission in collaboration with Russia who provided the launch, and the US which provide one ground station.

In summary: INTEGRAL is in very good shape and right on track. For up-to-date status information please consult http://astro.estec.esa.nl/Integral/.

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6. RHESSI Mission News - David M. Smith, U. C. Berkeley, and Brian R. Dennis, NASA/GSFC

The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) satellite continues to function well both for its primary (solar) science goals and for non-solar astrophysics. RHESSI images solar flares down to 2.3 arcsec at hard x-ray energies and 1 arcmin at gamma-ray energies, with energy resolution of 1-6 keV over the range 3 keV to 17 MeV. Details of the instrument and mission are discussed in the last HEAD newsletter (May 2002).

Solar Science:

As of 18 November 2002, there are 4206 events listed in the RHESSI flare catalog, most of them X-ray flares extending above 12 keV. A total of 10 events have been recorded with gamma-ray photons above 300 keV and one event, on July 23 2002, has been seen in gamma-ray lines. Thus, we have now satisfied the Minimum Science Requirements agreed to with NASA HQ before launch and RHESSI has officially been declared a success.

The November issue of Solar Physics is devoted to a total of 20 RHESSI instrument and early results papers. The instrument papers provide definitive descriptions of all components including the imaging, spectroscopy, and polarization capabilities, and the data access and analysis software. Early results in these papers include the following.

1. The non-thermal X-ray power-law in flares often extends down to 10 keV before becoming dominated by the thermal component, meaning the derived electron beam energy can be an order of magnitude larger than the sum of kinetic energy of bulk motion plus the thermal and radiated energies of the flare kernel.

2. Results on the first X-flare recorded with RHESSI, a GOES X1.5 flare on 21 April 2002, include (i) hard X-ray brightenings some 3-5 minutes before hot plasma appears in the TRACE 195-Å pass band, (ii) impulsive hard X-ray emission from sources as small as or smaller than 2 arcseconds in extent, and (iii) X-ray emission below ~10 keV seen for over 12 hours from a coronal source that rose in altitude above the limb to 140 Mm.

3. Gamma-ray lines and continuum were observed from the Earth's atmosphere during impact of solar energetic particles on 21 April 2002. De-excitation lines were resolved from 14N, 11B, and 12C (G. Share et al.). The April 21 X-flare was the main flare seen during a ten-day period of intense solar storms. A workshop on this period was held at APL in August and a special session will be held at the San Francisco AGU meeting in December.

A special session entitled "Energy Release and Particle Acceleration in the Solar Atmosphere Flares and Related Phenomena" was held at the 34th COSPAR Scientific Assembly in October in Houston. Many early RHESSI results were presented there too and will be published in Advances in Space Sciences. Many of the RHESSI papers mentioned above are on line at the Max Millennium web site (http://solar.physics.montana.edu/cgi-bin/eprint/default_page.pl).

Non-Solar Science:

RHESSI continues to monitor the sky in the hard x-ray and soft gamma-ray range. Numerous bursts have been seen from the Soft Gamma Repeater SGR 1900+14, including over a dozen in a single 15-minute period on November 2. Many cosmic gamma-ray bursts have been seen, including one very bright, hard burst: GRB021008 (October 8, 2002). This event was seen out to beyond 3 MeV. No significant narrow lines were seen in emission or absorption from 30 keV to 3 MeV. Due to the excellent statistics and RHESSI's high energy resolution, we believe upper limits on narrow lines from this spectrum will be the most sensitive of any GRB spectrum.

An analysis of RHESSI data on the Galactic Center region has detected the 1809 keV line from the decay of radioactive 26Al at a flux level comparable to that of previous missions. The observed line width is completely consistent with the instrumental resolution of about 4.5 keV FWHM for narrow background lines in the same spectrum, and appears to rule out the broadened width reported by Naya et al. 1996 (Nature, 384, 44).

Although RHESSI was not intended to point away from the Sun, we have been studying the possibility of off-pointing in order to image the Crab Nebula. Off-pointing trials this past summer, when the Sun and the Crab were close in the sky, did not succeed in centering the Crab in RHESSI's 1.8 degree imaging field of view. We do have some potentially imagable data from the time of the Crab's closest approach (1.3 degrees from the Sun). We are refining our techniques in order to stay pointed directly at the Crab for about a week next summer, producing images with 10 arcsec or better resolution up to about 100 keV.

All RHESSI data are immediately available to the public; anyone interested in working on RHESSI science should visit the RHESSI general web page and the RHESSI data and software center (http://hessi.ssl.berkeley.edu/ and http://rhessidatacenter.ssl.berkeley.edu/). Since the data analysis software is primarily designed to study solar flares, anyone wishing to use RHESSI for non-solar astrophysics is encouraged to contact the RHESSI non-solar coordinator, David Smith, at dsmith@ssl.berkeley.edu.

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7. HETE-2 Mission News - George Ricker, PI for the HETE Mission, and Donald Lamb, University of Chicago, on behalf of the HETE Science Team.

Bright Afterglow Observed from HETE-2 Gamma-Ray Burst:

Just a few days before its second anniversary in orbit, the High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2) received a very nice birthday present, which was promptly shared with astronomers worldwide. At 12:06:13.6 UTC on Friday, October 4, the HETE instruments detected a bright, ~100 second-long GRB. Ten seconds after the burst began, HETE alerted astronomers that it had detected a GRB. Thirty-eight seconds after the alert, HETE issued a flight location from its Widefield X-ray Monitor (WXM) -- before the burst was half over. Ground analyses provided an improved (final) WXM location 73 minutes after the burst; later, ground analysis of Soft X-Ray Camera (SXC) data gave a 2-arcminute accuracy location 154 minutes after the burst (Y. Shirasaki et al, GCN 1565).

Twenty-six minutes after the HETE alert, D. Fox and colleagues (GCN 1564) announced the discovery of a very bright (m_R ~ 15.5 mag) optical afterglow. Their observations, which used the Oschin Schmidt telescope at the Palomar Observatory, relied upon the HETE flight location, and had started only 9 minutes after the burst began. Astronomers in Kyoto and Bisei (M. Uemura et al, GCN1566; K. Matsumoto et al, GCN1567) confirmed the Palomar observations and watched the source fade over the next two hours by about a factor of two. Over the next three weeks, nearly 100 radio, infrared, and optical telescopes in more than a dozen countries were brought to bear on the afterglow. Initial target-of-opportunity observations with both Chandra and Hubble took place just one day after the burst.

HETE's prompt localization has resulted in GRB021004 being by far the best observed burst in the 30-year history of GRB astronomy. More GCN Circulars reporting observational results for GRB021004 have been issued than for any other GRB. "Catching" the very bright afterglow of GRB021004 early made possible a wealth of multiwavelength observations that are providing new insights into the GRB phenomenon. The earliest optical observations of the burst afterglow revealed an unusual light curve: an initial power-law decline followed by a large increase. Later optical observations showed a series of "bumps" and "dips" superimposed on a slow power-law decline. These features may be a result of the afterglow jet encountering variations in the density of material immediately surrounding the GRB, possibly providing indirect information about the last months of life of the progenitor star. Many low-, medium-, and high-resolution optical spectra of GRB021004 have been taken. These spectra showed that the burst occurred in a host galaxy at a redshift z = 2.32 (R. Chornock and A. V. Filippenko, GCN 1605).

HETE Operations:

In its first two years of operations, HETE has localized 30 GRBs. The observing efficiency of the satellite and its dedicated network of 14 "Burst Alert Stations" has markedly improved over the past year, with 10 GRBs having been localized over the past three months. GRB021004 was the fourth burst in two months for which HETE provided both a near-real time flight location and a precise SXC ground location.

HETE operations are slated to continue until 2004. Over these next two years, the HETE mission will continue addressing basic questions about GRBs, including such issues as: What are "X-ray Rich" GRBs? [~1/3 of HETE localizations] What are short GRBs? [1 HETE localization thus far] Are there other, rarer types of GRBs? Why do only ~1/2 of all GRBs have optical afterglows ? Are GRBs detectable at z > 6?

The HETE mission is an ongoing collaboration between MIT; NASA; Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico; France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements (CESR), and Ecole Nationale Superieure de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace (Sup'Aero); and Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), Tokyo Institute of Technology (TiTech), and Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU). The Science Team includes members from the University of Chicago, the University of California (Berkeley and Santa Cruz), Brazil's Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, India's Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and Italy's Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. Mission operations and data analysis for the HETE mission in the US is supported by NASA contract NASW-4690.

Ongoing updates and further details are provided by the HETE Mission Operations Team at the official website: http://space.mit.edu/HETE/.

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8. XMM Mission News - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

XMM-Newton Operations. In order to reduce the effects of radiation damage, the temperatures of the RGS and EPIC MOS have been successfully lowered. The RGS instruments are now operating at a temperature of -110 C (down from -80 C) and the EPIC MOS at -120 C (down from -100 C). During the three years since launch, the instruments' performance had been affected by ionizing radiation more or less constistent with prelaunch estimates. Preliminary results show that the lowering of the temperature is having the planned effect: The Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) is improved by a factor 3 for MOS2 and 2 for the MOS1 and the number of hot pixels in the RGS cameras has been substantially reduced. A movie at http://xmm.vilspa.esa.es/external/xmm_news/items/cooling02/index.shtml shows the effects of the cooling on both the RGS and the MOS. New response matrices will be generated and incorporated in the standard analysis.

The AO-3 Call for Proposals will be issued 2003 mid-March after the Chandra proposals are due, with a deadline for submission in late April. There will be only 6 weeks between the announcement and the deadline. A "large programs" category will be created. At the recommendation of the User community, proposals will be submitted via the RPS system, and the OTAC panels will consist of at least 5 members. Abstracts of successful proposals will be made public. GO's will receive feedback from the OTAC.

The first SAS workshop was held at the Goddard Space Flight Center on Nov 4 and 5. The workshop was very successful and the XMM-Newton GOF will probably organize more workshops. For more information on future workshops or to come to GSFC for a visit, please contact us at Back to Top

9. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden, Manager, Chandra X-ray Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Martin Weisskopf

Chandra passed its 3rd year of operation on 23 July 2002 and both the spacecraft and science instruments continue to operate exceptionally well.

Operational highlights during the last six months have included the uplink of an update to the on-board gyro scale-factor and alignment matrix in July, the nominal completion of the 2002 Fall eclipse season in August, an uneventful passage through the Leonids storm in November, the nominal passage of a 39 minute lunar eclipse in September and an update to the Star Catalog that will provide improved color and position accuracy. A series of engineering tests were also completed to measure the performance of the aspect camera in acquiring stars near the earth's bright limb. As a result of the tests the current mission constraint of 20 degrees will be reduced to 10 degrees and result in increased scheduling flexibility, especially near perigee. This will assist in selecting optimal attitudes for thermal and momentum constraints.

The observatory science schedule was halted 6 times since May due to high solar activity resulting in an overall average observing efficiency of 68% during this 6 month interval. We note that the frequency of solar activity is decreasing and that the efficiency has increased from the 60% average for the 6 months ending in May to be once more approaching the expected 70%. The Science and Mission operations teams responded quickly to 5 fast turn-around Targets of Opportunity, two of which were 24-hour requests.

Both the ACIS and HRC focal plane instruments have continued to operate well overall however we note the recent characterization of a continuous degradation in the ACIS detection efficiency at low-energies. Our best interpretation is that this is due to molecular contamination building up on the cold optical blocking filter, and/or possibly on the CCD chips. The efficiency at the C-K edge at 284 eV has decreased by a factor of 4.5 since launch (reducing by 2/3 of its value each year) while at the L-complex lines of the on-board calibration source, around 670 eV, the efficiency seems to be approaching an asymptotic value about 50% of that at launch. Above 1 keV, the degradation is less than 10% to date. Observations of bright continuum sources with the gratings have given clues to the composition of the material(s), and we are carrying out measurements of out-gassing by candidate contaminants which along with simulations of their transport might lead to a strategy for baking them off. Contributed software at http://cxc.harvard.edu/cont-soft/software/ACISABS.1.1.html can be used in the analysis of data, to account for the effects of the additional attenuation. For cycle 5 proposals, Observers are encouraged to use the effective area curves provided in the Proposers' Observatory Guide, which conservatively extrapolate a continued degradation to May 2004, the mid-point of the cycle 5 observing year.

The processing, archiving and distribution of data have continued smoothly with the average time from target observation to data distribution to user remaining about a week. The Chandra archive has grown to 3.3TB in size and continues to grow at 0.5TB/year. The archive was made accessible to users via ftp in September and CIAO 2.3 was released in November. This CIAO release contains a new tool that can be used to apply the CTI (charge transfer inefficiency) adjustment procedure. This correction restores some of the resolution lost due to radiation damage to the ACIS detectors early in the mission. CIAO updates can be found at http://cxc.harvard.edu/ciao/.

A significant focus has been placed in recent months on working with the science community to identify Chandra results of note and convey the results to the public through press releases and NASA HQ Space Science Updates. Since May the expanded Education and Public Outreach team have made 3 image releases, 8 press releases and worked with NASA HQ to issue 3 Space Science Updates. These latter included a spectacular 'movie' sequence of the Crab nebula, and the detection of 2 super-massive, active black holes in NGC 6240.

Observations for Cycle 3 are nearing completion with a transition to Cycle 4 targets in December. The cycle 4 Peer Review was held June 18-20 and resulted in the selection of 230 programs from the 817 proposals submitted. The next Chandra announcement will be issued by SAO as a Call for Proposals and is planned for December 13 with a proposal deadline of March 14, 2003.

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10. Swift Mission News - Lynn Cominsky, Swift Press Officer, and Christopher Wanjek, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Swift mission development continues with a huge amount of hardware work in this time period, with the satellite components making their way to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for assembly and testing. The launch is planned for December 2003. The Swift spacecraft, built by Spectrum Astro, has been delivered to GSFC. The Ultraviolet and Optical Telescope (UVOT), built by the Pennsyvania State University and UK's Mullard Space Science Lab, is also at Goddard, with final calibration now in progress. The X-ray Telescope (XRT), built by UK's Leicester University and Brera Observatory in Italy, was calibrated at the Panter facility in Germany. The XRT is now at Goddard, having passed its delivery review.

The Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), built by Goddard with flight software from Los Alamos National Laboratory, is largely assembled. BAT's blocks, its fundamental detector array units, will soon be completely fabricated and tested. On December 5-6, despite a heavy snowfall, the Swift team met at and near Goddard to discuss the mission status, including reports from ground-based observatories whose help will be essential in observing gamma-ray bursts spotted by Swift.

E/PO News: The Swift E/PO team announces the release of a new classroom activity guide entitled "Invisible Universe: The Electromagnetic Spectrum from Radio Waves to Gamma Rays." It was created by the Lawrence Hall of Science Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) group in conjunction with the EPO group at Sonoma State University. The Guide contains five thoroughly-tested activities that use the mystery of gamma-ray bursts as an engagement to teach students about the electromagnetic spectrum, the different ways astronomical objects emit energy across the spectrum, and how astronomers detect these objects. The supplies needed to perform the lessons are inexpensive, and are readily available in most schools or can be found easily in hardware stores. To receive a copy, write to materials@universe.sonoma.edu. Or you can purchase a copy directly from GEMS by going to http://www.lhs.berkeley.edu/GEMS/gemsInvUniv.html. The EPO group showcased the new GEMS activities in a workshop with around 75 teachers in November, 2002 at the AAPT-Northern California Nevada sectional meeting.

The combined GLAST and Swift booth made an appearance at the California Science Teacher's Meeting in San Francisco, in October, 2002. Hundreds of Swift slinkies, Waves Light up the Universe activity and Spin a Spectrum guides and Newton's Law posters were distributed to eager attendees. Newton's Law posters and other activity guide materials can be viewed at http://swift.sonoma.edu/education/index.html.

Swift has two new Educator Ambassadors: Rae McEntyre and Rob Sparks. Sparks has a BS and MS in Physics, and was a Fermilab Teacher Fellow in 2001-02, working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He is now teaching high school at the Prairie School in Racine, Wisconsin. McEntyre has a BS in Biology and an MS in Secondary Science Education. She is National Board certified in Adolescent/Young Adult Science and teaches Environmental Science (includingAstronomy) at Gallatin County HS in Warsaw, Kentucky.

In August, McEntyre explained the importance of scientific notation to Swift to ~70 high school students at Gallatin High School. In October, she discussed gamma-ray astronomy at the Astronomy and Space Science Workshop at Western Kentucky University with 15 teachers and also led an activity on the electromagnetic spectrum using GEMS materials in the NASA Educational Workshops Aerospace Educators Share-a-Thon at the NSTA/Louisville Conference with ~20 teachers. In July, Sparks explained Swift to ~15 master teachers attending a week-long workshop at Tuft University's Wright Center for Education. In September, he gave a public lecture about Swift and gamma-ray astronomy to ~75 attendees during a day-long event hosted by the Geneva, IL astronomy group and in November, he discussed Swift and shared Swift materials at Chicago's Physics Northwest with ~30 high school teachers.

An article about Gamma-ray Bursts, entitled "The Brightest Explosions in the Universe" written by Swift Principal Investigator Neil Gehrels, BeppoSAX scientist Luigi Piro and theorist Peter Leonard appeared in the December, 2002 issue of Scientific American. The article recounts the history of gamma-ray bursts from their initial discovery, through the CGRO/BATSE era and the discovery of afterglows by Beppo SAX. It also discusses the connection between GRBs and supernovae, the fireball model and the connection between GRBs and the births of black holes.

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11. GLAST Mission News - Lynn Cominsky, GLAST Press Officer, and Christopher Wanjek, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The GLAST project continues to move forward. The LAT (Large Area Telescope) team held its Collaboration Meeting on October 22-25, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Attendees discussed technical design issues and also participated in a science symposium on Active Galactic Nuclei, a prime GLAST target. The Science Working Group met on September 12-13 in Huntsville, Alabama. Gamma-ray bursts and the capabilities of the GLAST GRB Burst Monitor were two of the many topics discussed. Presentations from both meetings can be viewed at http://glast.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/.

In August, NASA selected Arizona-based Spectrum Astro as the spacecraft partner to build GLAST. This is the same company helping to build Swift. The LAT team had a successful Delta PDR and DOE Baseline Review in July. The team is now preparing for a Critical Design Review. In addition, LAT's Science Support Center is now designing software requirements.

E/PO News: The GLAST E/PO team at Sonoma State University held a training session for the GLAST Educator Ambassadors (EAs) during July, 2002. Also attending were the two new Swift EAs, as well as three new EAs chosen to represent all the other missions in the SEU theme area. A complete report on the training week can be found at: http://glast.sonoma.edu/ambassadors/training/index.html.

The new educator's guide: Far Out Math! produced in partnership with TOPS Science Inc., is now available. Helping students understand logarithms and exponents by making various types of simple old-fashioned slide rules, and engaging them to solve GLAST-related mathematic problems, is the motivation behind this guide. For more information on the TOPS guide, see: http://glast.sonoma.edu/teachers/teachers.html.

The combined GLAST and Swift booth made an appearance at the California Science Teacher's Meeting in San Francisco, in October, 2002. Thousands of Seeing and Exploring the Universe kits were distributed, all containing the GLAST Active Galaxies poster. The Active Galaxies Education unit is now in the final stages of review.

The GLAST Telescope Network (GTN) is starting to shape up. Sonoma State now has a 14 inch robotic telescope that is being used to prototype the archiving and control software. New members of the GTN include the Holton Kansas high school, home of Mike Ford, one of the GLAST Educator Ambassadors. We are also pursuing a partnership with the AAVSO, that grew out of our participation in last summer's AAVSO meeting in Hawaii. The AAVSO will be acting as a repository of reduced data on our blazar target list, while SSU will archive the raw images. The target list, stellar calibration sequences and other useful information are all available through http://glast.sonoma.edu/gtn.

GLAST Educator Ambassadors News: Daryl Taylor has been very busy, giving GLAST workshops to students and teachers in New Jersey in August, September, October and November. The October workshops took place at the New Jersey Science Teacher's Association Meeting, and drew over 500 participants. Jason Smith presented GLAST materials in teacher training workshops for the DC public schools, and to over 100 teachers at the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas. Teena Della was the keynote speaker at a Quantum Leaps Career Workshop put on in December by SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology) at Capilano College in North Vancouver, BC. Over 60 female grade 11 & 12 students (with their teachers) attended. She also gave a workshop to third graders in which a model of an active galaxy was built, and viewed from different perspectives, one of the new GLAST educational activities.

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12. AstroGravS Archive - Joan Centrella, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Astrophysical Gravitational-Wave Sources (AstroGravS) Archive is now online at http://astrogravs.gsfc.nasa.gov. AstroGravS is a website devoted to astrophysical sources of gravitational waves. The site is intended to be a resource for both the gravitational wave physics and astrophysics communities. The site's current offerings include a Waveform Catalog and a Literature Catalog.

The Waveform Catalog is designed to be a repository of downloadable waveforms, computed by researchers worldwide. This catalog can be used for data analysis, experimental simulation and design tasks, and source identification and interpretation. To contribute to the Waveform Catalog, contact Curator John Baker at mailto:jbaker@milkyway.gsfc.nasa.gov.

The Literature Catalog is a living archive of links to relevant research papers in source modeling, data analysis, and related subfields (currently 14 subject categories in all). This catalog is regularly updated by editors who are experts in each of the subject categories. For more information regarding the Literature Catalog, contact Editor-in-Chief Kimberly New at mailto:knew@lanl.gov.

Additional content will be added to the AstroGravS site in the future. For general comments/questions regarding AstroGravS, please contact Joan Centrella at mailto:jcentrel@milkyway.gsfc.nasa.gov. AstroGravS is a service of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (LHEA) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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13. Second X-ray Astronomy School - Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer

The Second X-ray Astronomy School was held from August 18 to August 22 in Coolfont, West Virginia. The school was organized jointly by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Chandra X-ray Center, with administrative support from USRA (University Space Research Association).

About 50 students from all over the world gathered to learn about X-ray astronomy from the basics of CCD physics to the pitfalls of small statistics data analysis. The classes were scheduled in the morning and late afternoon leaving a large part of the day free. This format fostered interactions between the lecturers and the students and was overwhelmingly approved by the students in a poll taken at the end of the school. The response was largely positive and a next edition of the school is already in the works, location and date to be determined.

Lectures from the school are available on the Web at: http://xrayschool.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xrayschool/schedule.html. For more information or to be included in the mailing list, please send a note to xrayschool@milkyway.gsfc.nasa.gov.

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14. Meeting Announcements

First Constellation-X Spectroscopy Workshop (4 - 7 May, 2003 @ Columbia University, New York, NY, USA)
This will be the first of a regular series of workshops designed to review our understanding of X-ray spectroscopic processes in astrophysical sources, and to use that understanding to update and refine the Design Reference Mission for Constellation-X. The initial workshop will highlight the spectroscopic results from the grating and CCD experiments on Chandra and XMM-Newton, and serve as a forum to discuss the X-ray spectroscopic scientific potential of Astro-E2. Oral and poster presentations are solicited on a variety of topics, ranging from analysis of Chandra and XMM-Newton observational results to theoretical and laboratory studies of fundamental atomic processes. The workshop will be comprised of 2 1/2 days of scientific sessions, closing around lunchtime on the 7th. It will be followed by a regular Constellation-X Facility Science Team (FST) meeting at Columbia, open to all who are interested in attending, which will begin the afternoon of the 7th, and conclude during the early afternoon of the 8th. Further details of this meeting can be found at: http://constellation.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/workshop/details.html. For registration and accommodations, go to http://http://www.confcon.com. Further details on Constellation-X can be found at http://constellation.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Second VERITAS Symposium on TeV Astrophysics of Extragalactic Sources (24 - 26 April, 2003 @ Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago, USA)
This conference is a follow-on to the highly successful VERITAS Workshop held in Cambridge, MA in 1998. As such this conference will provide a venue for presentations and discussion aimed at the scientific issues raised by the observation of TeV gamma-ray emission from Active Galactic Nuclei. Although the main emphasis will be on emission from blazars, the symposium will also cover emission from other extragalactic sources, absorption in the intergalactic medium, the current observational status of Very High Energy Gamma Ray Astronomy and the status of major new instruments in space and on the ground. The Scientific Organizing Committee consists of S. Bradbury, B. Dingus, J. Finley, G. Ghisellini, F. Halzen, A. Konigl, E. Lorenz, P. Michelson, M. Mori, A. Olinto, R. Protheroe, M. Punch, R. Sambruna, F. Stecker, H. Volk and T. Weekes. Further details of this meeting can be found at: http://gamma2003.uchicago.edu.

The Restless High-Energy Universe (May 5-8, 2003 @ Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
This symposium will be dedicated to six successful years of BeppoSAX operations (April 30, 1996 - April 30, 2002) and devoted to new results in the fields in which BeppoSAX was active, obtained through missions like XMM-Newton, Chandra, RXTE and INTEGRAL: 1) Gamma-Ray Bursts and their afterglows; 2) AGN, blazars and QSOs; 3) the physics of compact objects (X-ray binaries, short and long X-ray bursts, X-ray transients, young and old isolated neutron stars, Soft Gamma Ray Repeaters, Anomalous X-ray pulsars); 4) non-thermal phenomena in thin plasma sources (galaxy clusters, supernova remnants, relativistic wind nebulae); and 5) jets and disks. The Scientific Organizing Committee consists of J.A.M. Bleeker, E. Costa, C. Cesarsky, G. Di Cocco, P. Giommi, N. Gehrels, F. Frontera, G. Hasinger, J. Heise, W. Hermsen, E.P.J. van den Heuvel, H. Inoue, M. van der Klis, C. Kouveliotou, L. Maraschi, A. Parmar, G.C. Perola, L. Piro, M.J. Rees, G. Ricker, L. Scarsi, R. Sunyaev, G. Villa and M. Weisskopf. The symposium is being organized under auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (Amsterdam) and the Academia del Lincei (Rome). Please visit the symposium web site for further information: http://www.sron.nl/saxsymp.

Current Challenges in Poisson Multi-Scale Deconvolution Methods (15-16 January, 2003 @ Cambridge, Mass. USA)
This Post-AAS "Collaboratory" arises from Special Session 63: "Principled `Model Free Deconvolution' via Multiscale Methods" http://www.aas.org/publications/baas/v34n4/aas201/S630.htm. It was sparked by an unusual confluence: our key AAS speakers, their collaborators, and Boston-area multiscale and "deconvolution" experts from several disciplines will all be in the Boston area following the AAS. We are taking this opportunity to have two days of in-depth talks by key speakers; commentaries by visiting experts; and discussions by all. Participants are expected to range from students to seasoned reasearchers. The goals are to present the cutting edge of Poisson "deconvolution" techniques using new multiscale methods; hammer out current understandings, problems, and future challenges for Poisson multiscale methods across astronomy, medicine, engineering, and statistics; draft a list of questions, practical problems, challenges and new successes from the Special Session; provide a "gateway" for researchers new to these methods; and lay groundwork for new collaborations and new lines of research. All with the plan of reporting back to the wider astronomical community. The workshop is sponsored by the Astronomy and Statistics Working Group at Harvard University, the Statistics Group at Boston University, NASA's AISR Program, and the Chandra X-ray Center. Further details of this meeting can be found at: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~vandyk/MultScaleConf/.

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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 December 10, 2002