HEADNEWS: THE ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER OF THE
HIGH ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS DIVISION OF THE AAS
Newsletter No. 85, November 2004
- Notes from the Editor - Matthew Baring
- Comments from the Chair - Roger Blandford
- Fourth Schramm Prize Awarded to Oliver Morton - Ilana Harrus
- HEAD in the News - Ilana Harrus, Christopher Wanjek and Megan Watzke
- INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler and Chris Shrader
- XMM-Newton Mission News - Steve Snowden and Phil Plait
- GLAST Mission News - Christopher Wanjek, Phil Plait and Lynn Cominsky
- RHESSI Mission News - David Smith
- HETE Mission News - George Ricker and Don Lamb
- Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report - Roger Brissenden and Martin Weisskopf
- Swift Mission News - Lynn Cominsky and Phil Plait
- Astro-E2 Mission News - Richard Kelley, Koji Mukai and Ilana Harrus
- Astrostatistics Workshop Resources - Vinay Kashyap
- News from NASA Headquarters - Lou Kaluzienski
- Meeting Announcements:
from the Editor - Matthew Baring, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer,
HEAD only delivers the table-of-contents for HEADNEWS into your mailbox.
The newsletter itself can be found online at
After a very successful HEAD Division meeting held in New Orleans this
past September, we look forward to the next meeting in the fall of 2006,
probably in the San Francisco Bay Area; details of the meeting calendar
are offered in the "Comments from the Chair," Item 2 just below, and
specifics of the venue will be communicated to the membership when they
This will be the last Newsletter I will oversee as Secretary-Treasurer,
since I am rotating off the HEAD Executive Committee in January, 2005. It has been
an honor and a privilege to serve in this role over the last 3 1/3
years, and I thank the various Committee members, HEAD members and
AAS personnel who have helped me in this capacity during this period.
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2. Comments from the Chair - Roger Blandford
HEAD visits Capitol Hill:
On Wed Oct 13, a delegation of HEAD members visited Capitol Hill in
order to explain the high energy astrophysics program to staffers
working on science committees and in the offices of their Senators and
Representatives. The reception was quite sympathetic and acknowledged
the overall success of the current program. The members of the
delegation (Blandford, Chakrabarty, Flanagan, Kahn, Murray, Paerels,
Reynolds, Schattenburg) also learned much about the political process.
The event concluded with a visit to OMB. Thanks are due to Kevin Marvel
of the AAS for coordination.
April 2006 APS and Fall 2006 HEAD meetings:
As many HEAD members will be aware, HEAD planned to be a co-host of the
Spring 2006 APS meeting to be held in Dallas, April 22-25, to facilitate
interaction between the high energy astrophysics and physics
communities. The APS Division of Astrophysics (DAP) holds its annual
gatherings each April at the APS meeting. Following discussions with
Steve Holt, Chair of DAP, and members of the DAP committee, it has been
decided that a HEAD meeting coincident with the Spring 2006 APS
meeting was not possible. It was decided that HEAD will instead sponsor
DAP sessions at the 2006 APS April meeting, including participation in
the planning of these. Furthermore, DAP and HEAD will work together
in recommending plenary speakers for this APS meeting.
Plans are also underway for a solo HEAD meeting to be held in the fall
of 2006, probably in the San Francisco Bay area, and DAP will contribute
to the planning of this meeting as well. Details will be emailed to the
HEAD membership as they become available. 2006 promises to be a banner
year for high energy astrophysics, with the highly anticipated results
from Swift and Astro-E2, combined with ongoing efforts from Chandra,
XMM-Newton, RHESSI, and HESS, being of broad interest to both physicists
and astronomers. Members of both the APS-DAP and AAS-HEAD
communities will be strongly encouraged to participate in both the APS
and HEAD meetings.
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3. Fourth Schramm Prize Awarded to Oliver Morton
- Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer
The 4th David N. Schramm Prize was awarded to Oliver Morton for an
article describing the appeal and pitfalls of high-energy neutrino
science. The article "Moonshine and Glue" was published in the Spring
2004 issue of "The American Scholar". The prize-winning article
describes the difficulties of hunting for high-energy neutrinos. It
tackles the science in a thorough but clear way. The article also
conveys magnificently the nature of scientific endeavor. The prize was
presented to the winner during the HEAD meeting in New Orleans in
September by Roger Blandford, Chair of the HEAD Executive Committee. The
photographs of the award ceremony are available at:
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4. HEAD in the News (May 2004 - November 2004) -
Ilana Harrus, HEAD Press Officer,
Christopher Wanjek, Structure and Evolution of the Universe
Senior Science Writer, and Megan Watzke, Chandra Press Officer
Now that the elections are over and that the Boston Red Sox have won
the world series and passed the "curse of the Bambino" on to the
Yankees, HEAD members can concentrate on the next best thing:
wonderful results from the on-going and upcoming missions.
Various Items in the News:
November 4, 2004: HESS result on SNR/Cosmic ray connection.
In the US, it was reported by the LA Times, Astrobiology Magazine,
Space.about.com, Space.com, RedNova, and Yahoo News. This result was
covered more extensively in the international press. It was reported
abroad by the BBC News, The Register (UK), Daily Times (Pakistan),
Economic Times (India), Hindustan Times (India), New Kerala (India),
WebIndia (India) and Xinhua (China).
November 1, 2004: SWIFT is coming up!
(At the time of writing, SWIFT was on the launch pad, ready to go). The
press conference announcing the upcoming launch of the newest NASA
satellite was held November 1. There was another press conference a week
earlier in England. It was the feature article of Popular Science (Oct
issue) and described in a two-page spread in Science. It was also
covered by the New York Times, Newsday, Florida Today, the Houston
Chronicle, Nature, the BBC, the Guardian , the Register, the Scotsman,
the New Statesman, and New Scientist. Also covered by the websites:
Space.com, Spaceflight Now, IEEE Spectrum, RedNova.com, TechNewsWorld,
PhysOrg.com, Universe Today and the BBC News website. Please note that
the press coverage is preliminary since we expect more coverage after
October 26, 2004: Dark matter questions.
A Chandra study on NGC 4555, a large elliptical galaxy, which raises
new questions on dark matter was covered by New scientist, Science
Daily, Universe Today, SpaceFlightNow.com, RedNova.com,
ScienceBlog.com and SpaceRef.com.
October 6, 2004: A 400-Year Old Supernova Mystery.
A combination of Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer data give new insight in
the study of Kepler SNR.
This study released on the eve of the 400th anniversary of the
supernova event was covered by UPI, Astronomy, Scientific America,
Yahoo News, Space.com, MSNBC, Science Daily, Universe Today, Johns
Hopkins Gazette, Innovations Report, PhysOrg.com, and APOD.
September 30, 2004: Imminent Supernova.
This result was based on a study interpreting X-ray flashes as tools
to predict supernova explosions. Based on HETE-2 data, this story got
covered by Reuters, LA Times, CNN and CNN international, MSNBC,
Space.com, ABC online and The Register (UK).
September 23, 2004: Massive Merger of Galaxies is the Most Powerful on Record.
This result, using XMM-Newton data was one of the biggest story of
the fall. It was covered by TV stations (CNN, CNN International,
MSNBC, ABC News), radio (Voice of America) and a lot of newspapers
(New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Dallas Morning News,
Honolulu Advertiser, Pacific Business News, New Zealand Herald (New
Zealand), Xinhua (China), Independent (South Africa), The Register).
It was also reported by the wires (Reuters, UPI, Knight Ridder). The
result was also covered by Scientific American, Science News, Sky and
Telescope, Astronomy, Space.Com, Spaceflight Now, OregonLive.com,
PhysOrg.com, SpaceRef.com, Universe Today, New Scientist, Astronomy
Magazine, Science daily, Space.com, New Scientist, ABC Online,
stuff.co.nz, ScienceBlog.com and Science Magazine.
September 9-11, 2004 HEAD Meeting:
The HEAD meeting in New Orleans triggered a lot of coverage for a couple
of the results presented there. The result on a direct measurement of
the mass and radius (and a new constraint on the equation of state) of a
neutron star was extensively covered by MSNBC, Science, Science Now,
Universe Today, the Tuscan Citizen, Space.Com, Science.Blog.com and
SpaceRef.com. The result on following doomed matter on its ride around a
black hole (and getting a direct measurement on the black hole mass in
the process) was reported by MSNBC, Science Magazine, SpaceRef.com, and
August 23, 2004: New Image of Cas A.
The "first light" snapshot of Cas A was beautiful. The million second
exposure image of the SNR was shown in the pages of The New York
Times, The Economist, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The
Advertiser, National Post (CA), The Register (UK), Science News,
Science, Nature, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Magazine, Astrobiology
Magazine, MSNBC.com, Yahoo News, Space.com, ScienceBlog.com, Universe
Today, SpaceFlightNow.com, and PhysOrg.com.
August 13, 2004: Chandra study of merger in Abell 2125.
This result was covered by the BBC News, Aviation Week & Space
Technology, SpaceRef.com, Science Daily, Science Blog,
SpaceFligthNow.com, PhysOrg.com, and Innovations Report.
August 4, 2004: A New Type of Cosmic Explosion.
A study of the gamma-ray burst of December 3 detected by Integral was
reported by Caltech astronomers. The result was covered by Reuters,
MSNBC, ABC News, North County Times, Independent (South Africa)
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), New Scientist (UK), Physics Web,
Science Now, Pasadena Star News, Universe Today, Spaceflight Now,
Yahoo News, PhysOrg.com, Space.com and SpaceRef.com.
July 22, 2004: Chandra image of the McNeil's Nebula.
This result, showing an X-ray outburst from a young star in the newly
discovered "McNeil's Nebula" was covered by NPR (Science Friday), USA
Today, Long Beach Press Telegram, ScienceDaily.com, SpaceRef.com,
Universe Today, Yahoo News and Ascribe.com.
June 22, 2004: Galactic Center X-ray emission.
A result on the surprising conclusions of an analysis of the X-ray
emission from the Galactic Center using Chandra data was covered by
UPI, The Washington Times, The Register (UK), Scientific American,
Yahoo News, Space.com, Universe Today, ScienceBlog.com, Innovations
Report and Environmental News Network.
June 01, 2004: Delivered GOODS.
A report from the GOODS data (which include Chandra data) on hidden
supermassive black holes got the press attention from all over the
world. The result was reported by AP, CNN.com and covered by Dallas
Morning News, Star Tribune, the Guardian (UK), Sunday Tasmanian
(Australia), Science, Sky and Telescope, New Scientist, Yahoo News,
EurekAlert, and Innovations Report.
May 18, 2003: Chandra and Dark Energy.
This was already covered extensively in the previous "HEAD in the News"
May 2004 Newsletter, yet this Chandra result on dark energy, continued
to receive attention in the media until
June. The result was covered by ABC News, the Washington Times, the
Christian Science Monitor, US News and World Report, Truth News and
We also note the following:
- RedNova (November 10, 2004): Article on a recent result from Chandra and XMM-Newton on the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.
- New York Times (November 9, 2004): The front page article of the science section was on Supernova and Supernova Explosions.
- SpaceRef.com (November 8, 2004) covered the results from the InFOCuS successful 20-hour balloon flight in September from Fort Sumner, N.M. InFOCuS, an innovative X-ray telescope with 8-meter focal length, images hard X rays. The team issued an Astronomical Telegraph noting the outburst of the transient X-ray pulsar 4U 0115+634 seen during the balloon flight, imaged at 20-40 keV.
- Between October 27 and November 2 2004 in Reuters, Melbourne Herald Sun, The South African Star, Los Angeles Times, Daily Times (Pakistan), and Nature.com: Coverage of an article published in Phys Rev Letters on finding supernova debris on Earth.
- The Age (Australia) (Oct 30, 2004), News.com.au (Australia) (Oct 28, 2004), and ABC.online (Australia) (Oct 27, 2004) ran articles on the effects of cosmic rays on flight attendants.
- Roanoke Times (Oct 26, 2004), WAVY-TV (Oct 25, 2004), and Richmond Times Dispatch (Oct 24, 2004): Coverage of a group that wrote a proposal to build an underground lab to work on cosmic-rays and "do advanced work in astrophysics and other complicated research."
- Currents (Oct 22, 2004) reported on Dr. Woosley being awarded the APS's 2005 Hans A. Bethe Prize.
- Los Alamos Monitor (Oct 15, 2004) published an article on AMANDA, a neutrino detector in Antartica.
- Black Hills Pioneer (Oct 14, 2004) and Boston Globe (August 17, 2004) covered the future of Homestead, the underground facility for neutrino science.
- Iowa City Press Citizen (October 10, 2004) published an article in celebration of Van Allen's 90th birthday.
- Miami Herald (October 9. 2004) and Denver Post (September 13, 2004) covered the possibility of an underground laboratory in the Henderson Mine (Colorado) to do neutrino research.
- WebIndia123.com (India) (September 26, 2004) and PhysOrg.com (September 22, 2004) reported a HESS result on the Galactic Center.
- Between September 23 and September 28, 2004 in Innovations Report, SpaceFlight Now, Space.com, PhysOrg.com, ScienceBlog.com, Science Daily and Universe Today: Articles on Chandra analysis of the Mouse and a detailed study of the high-energy particles around a fast moving pulsar.
- The Australian (Australia) (September 20, 2004), ABC Science Online (September 14, 2004) and PhysOrg.com (September 14, 2004) covered a new method on using cosmic rays to generate random numbers for cryptography.
- The Chicago Tribune (September 19, 2004) published an article on two local students working on measuring the number of cosmic rays that hit the grounds of their high-school.
- Space.com (September 11, 2004) showed the first XMM-Newton image of Jupiter.
- Universe Today (September 9, 2004) published an article on a camera being build by ESA for GAIA. The article mentioned the camera aboard XMM-Newton.
- Between August 26 and September 9 2004 in Spaceref.com, PhysOrg.com, KSL-TV, Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Knight Rider, The Casper Star Tribune, Billings Gazette, and Detroit Free Press published articles on a new cosmic-ray detector being built in Utah.
- Between September 8 and September 10 in SpaceRef.com, Science Daily, Space Flight Now, PhysOrg.com, ScienceBlog.com covered a Chandra study of the Fornax cluster.
- SpaceRef.com (September 6, 2004) published an article introducing SWIFT science and gamma ray bursts.
- Economic Times (India) (September 6, 2004) published an article on supernova explosions.
- Lamar Daily News (September 3, 2004) published an article on local high-school students who are working on AUGER project.
- Universe Today (September 3, 2004) gave an update on Gravity Probe B.
- Science (September 2, 2004) and Science Magazine (August 5, 2004) published articles on HESS upcoming inauguration.
- CERN Courier (September 2004): Article on the INTEGRAL result on the gamma-ray burst.
- Mumbai Newsline (India) (August 30, 2004) had an article on a new Indian satellite devoted to X-ray astronomy and scheduled to launch in 2007.
- PhysOrg.com (August 12, 2004) had a commemorative article to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Chandra first light.
- SpaceRef.com (August 10, 2004) had an article on this year winner of the David N. Schramm Award.
- PhysOrg.com (August 5, 2004) had an article on high-energy emission from black holes.
- New York Times (August 2, 2004) covered another "sound" from a black hole result (this time M87 is playing the cannon of the 1812 overture).
- Universe Today and PhysOrg.com (July 29, 2004) covered the move of SWIFT to Florida in preparation of the launch in the fall.
- Universe Today (July 29, 2004) published an article on the Chandra image of the Quintuplet Cluster.
- Science Daily (July 21, 2004), SpaceRef.com and Universe Today (July 20, 2004) covered a result on Black Holes using data from XMM-Newton and Integral.
- NewScientist.com (July 21, 2004) published an article on recent simulations explaining the X-ray emission in cluster of galaxies.
- Universe Today (July 19, 2004) and Yahoo News (July 16, 2004) reported on a hot spot found on Geminga using XMM-Newton.
- Seattle Times (July 19, 2004) published an article on the controversy over the building of a neutrino lab under Cashmere Mountain.
- PennState Live (July 12, 2004), Spaceflight Now and UPI (July 6, 2004) covered the findings on a rare quadruple quasar, observed by Chandra, magnified by a single star in a foreground galaxy.
- Articles published between June 28 and July 8, Universe Today, Science Magazine, and MSNBC described a study on H1504+65 using FUSE and Chandra data.
- Yahoo News and Innovations report (July 8, 2004) reported the announcement of the release of software to convert FITS image files (used in X-ray astronomy) to a format understood by Photoshop.
- Stanford Report (July 7, 2004) reported on the new Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC).
- CERN Courier (July-August 2004) contains an article on the constraint on dark energy put by the Chandra X-ray observatory. Also: A composite image of W49B was the featured "Picture of the Month". Data from the Chandra X-ray observatory and Infra-red from the Palomar were used to generate the image.
- SpaceRef (June 24, 2004) announced the release of a movie based on data from the GOODS project (including images from Chandra).
- Science Now (June 23, 2004) and Spaceflight Now (June 18, 2004) published articles on supermassive black holes formation based on Chandra data.
- PhysicsWeb.org (UK) (June 16, 2004) announced the winners of a $1.3 million outreach award to introduce high-school students to astrophysics and cosmic-ray studies.
- Yahoo News, Space.com (June 8, 2004) and Universe Today and PhysicsWeb.org (UK) (June 2, 2004) reported on a new result on intermediate mass black holes using Chandra and XMM-Newton data.
- UPI (June 2, 2004), Spaceflight Now and Universe Today (June 3, 2004) published articles on the Chandra analysis of SNR W49B. The picture was also published in the July-August issue of the "CERN Courier".
- Cincinnati Enquirer (May 31, 2004) published a small article on a local high-school student who got a grant to study acceleration of cosmic rays in supernovae at Fermilab.
- Science News (May 21, 2004) had an article on DUO, the Dark Universe Observatory.
- Science News (May 21, 2004) published an article on Martin Weisskopf (co-winner of the 2004 Rossi Prize) who received a Presidential Rank Award, one of the highest recognitions for government service work.
Partial List of Links for HEAD Press Coverage/Images:
We'd like to be as complete as possible, so if you know of any HEAD
related press release not mentioned here, please let
HEAD Press Officer know.
for press releases issued in 2004 on subjects linked to the Structure
& Evolution of the Universe. There is a large overlap with what is
November 8, 2004:
November 4, 2004:
November 1, 2004:
October 26, 2004:
October 25, 2004:
October 21, 2004:
October 18, 2004:
October 6, 2004:
September 30, 2004:
September 23, 2004:
September 22, 2004:
September 14, 2004:
September 9, 2004:
September 8, 2004:
September 2, 2004:
August 26, 2004:
August 23, 2004:
August 13, 2004:
August 9, 2004:
August 5, 2004:
July 29, 2004:
July 27, 2004:
July 22, 2004:
July 20, 2004:
July 15, 2004:
July 6, 2004:
June 24, 2004:
June 22, 2004:
June 21, 2004:
June 18, 2004:
May 24, 2004:
And also several Image Releases at:
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5. INTEGRAL Mission News - Chris Winkler, INTEGRAL Project Scientist,
and Chris Shrader, Guest Observer Facility, NASA/GSFC
3rd Announcement of Opportunity (AO-3)
The deadline for submission of INTEGRAL proposals for AO-3 open time
observations was 29 October 2004. Below are some preliminary statistics
on the proposals that have been received.
The total number of proposals received was 108. The total observing time
requested in all proposals is approximately 111 Msec (for all types of
observation, i.e. fixed time, normal time, and TOO). Here, 10% of the
requested total TOO time has been taken into account. Given that up to
about 27 Msec of observing time are available for the AO-3 observing
programme (18 months duration starting on 18 February 2005), this
corresponds to an oversubscription by a factor of about 4.1 (see details
below). This is a very high value, showing the continued high interest
of the scientific community in the INTEGRAL mission.
In the following table we give the breakdown of number of proposals as
a function of the proposal category. Note that the numbers on requested
observing times do include TOO proposals, but it has been assumed here,
that a typical TOO proposal requests about 10% of its total observing
time. Further analysis may modify this assumption but the impact on the
overall results should not be large.
|| Requested Time (10^6 s)
|Miscellaneous (incl. GRB)
In number of proposals the Compact objects category is the biggest,
followed by the Extragalactic objects category. Nucleosynthesis and
Miscellaneous are clearly smaller. In amount of requested observing time
per proposal, however, the Nucleosynthesis category is significantly
The Time Allocation Committee, in charge of peer reviewing all
proposals, and recommending the scientific observing programme to ESA,
will meet in December at ESTEC, followed by ESA's announcement of the
final AO-3 observing programme towards the end of 2004. Observations of
the AO-3 cycle will commence on 18 February 2004.
NASA Archival and Theory Announcement of Opportunity
As in past mission cycles, NASA will solicit grant support proposals
from ESA-selected US INTEGRAL AO-3 Guest Observers. In addition,
limited support for INTEGRAL archival and theoretical research will be
available during AO-3. Details will be announced in a call for
proposals to be issued as an amendment to the ROSS NRA, on or shortly
after November 15, 2004:
Both types of proposals will be due in mid February, 2005.
Recent Science Highlights
Most of September and October 2004 have been devoted to observations of
the Galactic Centre region (GCDE and Open Time proposals). It was only
`interrupted' by observations of the Sagittarius Arm region (including
GRS 1915+105), IC443, a TOO on 4U 0115+63 (see below), the GPS and
calibration observations of the Crab. Now that the visibility window for
the Galactic Centre has been closed again, we focus on observations of
the Cygnus X region and Cas A, as well as performing various coordinated
observations with XMM-Newton, Chandra and/or RXTE (GRS 1915+105, Cygnus
X-1, NGC 7172, and 3C 273), see
During the last Galactic Centre visibility period a couple of new
transient sources were discovered by INTEGRAL, i.e. IGR J16465-4507
(ATel #329), IGR J17331-2406 (ATel #328) and IGR J17407-2808 (ATel #345;
see also GCN 2793). IGR J18410-0535 (ATel #340) was reported as a
possible new source, however, it is uncomfortably close (~7 arcmin) to
another (faint) INTEGRAL source, IGR J18406-0539. A relatively old
transient was seen to become active again as well: XTE J1743-363 (ATel
#332). SGR 1806-20 continues to be in an active bursting state (GCN
2706, 2760, 2763, 2764, 2823, 2827, 2831). At a completely different
location, during GPS observations, the well-known X-ray transient pulsar
4U 0115+634 was found to go into a long-awaited outburst (ATel #326,
#331); at first it triggered IBAS alerts (GCN 2704). The outburst
triggered an Open Time observation, which was performed at the end of
Only two GRBs appeared in the field-of-view since the last ISOC
Newsletter. These were a soft one lasting ~10 sec (GRB 040903; GCN 2690,
2691, 2693), probably an X-ray flash (GCN 2699), and a faint ~30 sec
long one (GRB 041015; GCN 2805).
Nucleosynthesis observations in particular need long integration times,
in order to well resolve line emission. INTEGRAL has by now pretty much
covered most of the sky. Using the SPI instrument a systematic search
for 511 keV emission (resulting from positron-electron annihilation) was
performed. The emission is - so far - only seen towards the center of
our Galaxy (see the INTEGRAL Picture of the Month for November:
http://www.rssd.esa.int/ Integral/POMNov2004.html). The spatial
distribution of the emission is equally compatible with galactic bulge
or halo distributions, the combination of a bulge and a disk component,
or a combination of a number of point sources. Such distributions are
expected if positrons originate either from low-mass X-ray binaries,
novae, Type Ia supernovae, or, even more exciting, possibly light dark
matter. This exciting new result made it into the News Focus of Science
(2004, vol. 305, p. 1899), reporting from the September 7-11 Meeting of
the AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division.
INTEGRAL continues to operate smoothly with all the spacecraft
sub-systems performing nominally. Fuel consumption remains low at around
0.1 kg/week, with approximately 167 kg remaining as of October 2004. The
power sub-system is working nominally with about 2100 W available from
the solar arrays. This is sufficient power to continue operations at a
solar pitch angle of 40deg for the foreseeable future. Thermal control
is working nominally and all temperatures are as expected. The
spacecraft orbit control is working satisfactorily by choosing the
pointing positions and times around the orbit when momentum wheel dumps
take place. This active control is necessary to ensure ground station
coverage down to 40,000 km and long enough overlap between the NASA
Goldstone and ESA Redu ground stations to allow smooth handovers.
Investigations are continuing on the failure of SPI Ge detector #17 in
July 2004. This is the second detector failure, following that of #2 in
December 2003. From the observed symptoms and analysis of the data
obtained during recovery attempts, the two detectors appear to have
failed in different ways, although the cause could be the same. In order
to investigate whether there is any link with the annealing, which in
both cases occurred some 2 weeks before the failures, the PI is
conducting a thermal vacuum test using Flight Spare hardware. The
equipment is being subjected to the same thermal profile as during
annealing in order to investigate the failure mechanism. In addition,
thermal tests of individual components and computer modelling
simulations are being conducted at ESTEC. It is expected that these
tests will be completed by the end of December 2004, so that a decision
can be made on whether to proceed with the next annealing in around
Preparations for the move of the ISOC from ESTEC (The Netherlands) to
ESAC (Spain) continue and most of the computer hardware needed by the
ISOC is now in place. It is expected that following an overlap period
where science operations will be conducted in parallel from both ESTEC
and ESAC, the transfer to ESAC control will occur at the start of AO-3
observations. L. O'Rouke, a software integration engineer, has joined
the ISOC team for 6 months during the transition. P. Kretschmar and E.
Kuulkers will join the ISOC team in ESAC as staff from 1 January 2005.
It is expected that an additional contractor operations scientist
position will be announced shortly.
INTEGRAL Public Data Archive
After a proprietary period of one year, INTE- GRAL data become publicly
available via the INTEGRAL archive. The year is counted from the time
data are distributed to the PI of the observation. For the sake of
simplicity, the data are made public revolution by revolution. The only
exception to this rule is calibration data, for which there is no
proprietary period and is therefore available immediately after it has
been ingested into the INTEGRAL archive. The timetable as to when data
will be made public can be found at
As of the beginning of November the data from
following revolutions have been made publicly available: 1-80, 89- 97,
100-103, 116-118. Contemporaneous dates of data releases are as follows:
data from revolutions 98, 99, 104-106, 109, 119-122 became publicly available
on November 19, 2004, and data from revolutions 107, 108, 110-115, 130
will become publicly available on December 10, 2004.
We also wish to bring to your attention the recent opening of the
NASA/GSFC mirror of the INTEGRAL public data archive. All INTEGRAL data
up to about August 2003 are now available through the HEASARC archives
(in addition to the primary mission archive at the INTEGRAL Science Data
Center in Geneva). In addition to the basic data products, the GSFC
INTEGRAL GOF and ISDC have jointly prepared separate databases of
high-level data products, searchable through the HEASARC Browse system,
such as an INTEGRAL bright source catalog, a published point source
catalog, and a summary results catalog. Each of these can be
cross-correlated with other HEASARC database tables, and can serve as a
useful roadmap to the INTEGRAL database for prospective researchers.
For additional information, please refer to the INTEGRAL GOF WWW pages:
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6. XMM-Newton Mission News - Steve Snowden, NASA/GSFC, and Phil Plait,
Sonoma State University
The response to the XMM-Newton AO-4 call for proposals was enthusiastic
with 657 proposals submitted. The total time requested was up 3% from
AO-3 at 101.7 Ms. With 14.5 Ms of available time this is an
oversubscription rate of 7. There are 484 individual PIs from 23
countries, with ~1600 scientists from 35 countries involved including
The proposal reviews are taking place and the results should be
announced in 2004 December or 2005 January.
XMM-Newton E/PO News:
The XMM-Newton-sponsored StarLab inflatable planetarium show, "The
Xtreme Universe" has been making progress. The first draft of the
cylinder has been completed, and is being reviewed internally at Sonoma
State University (SSU). After the review, a script will be written for
teachers to use with the cylinder. Supplemental classroom activities are
also being developed.
The computer-based CLEA (Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in
Astronomy) activity has been making progress. In this activity, students
will fit X-ray spectra of the Cas A supernova remnant and investigate
the varying elemental abundances in it. The current version was tested
by students at SSU, and their comments have been used to revise the
software. The beta version can be downloaded from:
The teacher's manual for the activity is currently being written.
We have developed the first activity and background material for the
Supernova Educator Unit. This is being jointly developed for GLAST and
XMM-Newton. It features an Excel spreadsheet in which abundances of
elements can be manipulated and the resulting light curve from
radioactive decay can be compared to actual data. This activity was
demonstrated to the Quarknet teachers at the workshop we held in
conjunction with the Beyond Einstein meeting at Stanford in May, 2004.
Work is in progress to write up this activity in our instructional
design format and further activities are in the design phase. For more
information, or to download the Excel spreadsheet, see:
The SSU E/PO group designed a ruler as a giveaway item to teachers and
scientists. The ruler is transparent and has an insert with images from
XMM-Newton on one side, and explanations on the back. This has proven to
be a big hit at education and science meetings. See
for more information.
The combined Swift/GLAST/XMM-Newton booth appeared at several
conferences. See the Swift HEAD entry for more information. The
XMM-Newton E/PO poster was also presented at the New Orleans HEAD
In the fall of 2003, Tom Estill and Chris Royce, who were formerly
supported as Educator Ambassadors (EAs) by the SEU Education Forum,
became XMM-Newton Educator Ambassadors. They were previously trained for
1 week at Sonoma State University in the summer of 2002. They joined
with 21 other EAs, supported by different NASA Projects for ten days of
additional training at Sonoma State University in the summer of 2004.
Since May, they have given three educator workshops.
Work continues on the integration of the XMM-Newton mission with the
Global Telescope Network (GTN; see the GLAST HEAD entry for more
information). The GTN telescopes are beginning to view a selection of
polars, a class of objects that will also be observed by XMM-Newton. We
are working with the AAVSO to arrange for polar monitoring observations
using finding charts, and standard star sequences for the selected group
of polars. These are now on the GTN web site:
For more information about XMM-Newton E/PO, please visit
Back to Top
7. GLAST Mission News - Christopher Wanjek, NASA/GSFC,
Phil Plait and Lynn Cominsky, Sonoma State University
The LAT (Large Area Telescope) development moves forward. All silicon
sensors for the Tracking Detector (TKR) have been delivered and tested,
and they significantly exceed the specifications. The first TKR tower
is expected to be shipped from Italy to SLAC by the end of 2004. All
the calorimeter structures have been delivered to NRL from France. The
first complete calorimeter module pre-ship review on November 12 was
successful and the expected delivery to SLAC is the first week of
December. The Anticoincidence Detector (ACD) mechanical structure is
complete and tested, and detectors are now being mounted on it. The LAT
electronics testbed and front-end simulator are now fully operational.
Important progress has been made on flight software testing and data
system testing as well. However, earlier production ramp-up problems
eroded schedule contingency for the LAT. Given the stage of the
project, it was deemed necessary to restore schedule contingency,
resulting in a slip of the launch date, which had been February 28,
2007. NASA and DOE, in consultation with the international partners,
are currently rebaselining the schedule for the LAT. The current
estimated launch date is in May 2007.
GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM) development has also progressed. "Build 1" of
the flight software has been completed and tested. A thermal design has
been successfully completed. Detector engineering modules are in
construction. And a test readiness review has been conducted in
There is much science-related activity to report since the last HEAD
newsletter. A weeklong LAT team meeting was held at the end of September
at Stanford/SLAC. Highlights included an instrument test data analysis
workshop, organized by Eduardo do Couto e Silva; an overview of hardware
status and detailed testing plans, planning for science operations, and
goals for the second Data Challenge (summer 2005); and a joint
mini-symposium (with the Science Working Group) on GeV-TeV Astrophysics
in the GLAST Era, organized by Julie McEnery, which included
presentations on the status of the major ground-based gamma-ray and
neutrino observatories, along with a focus on science topics and useful
discussions about future cooperation. At the end of the week, there was
a SWG business meeting. The GLAST Users Committee met at NASA Goddard in
August to discuss science operations policies, and year-1 data releases;
the next meeting is in March 2005. The GUC Chair is now Josh Grindlay.
GLAST had a successful mission CDR during the week of September 20th at
NASA Goddard. This was preceded by many months of detailed subsystem
peer reviews and CDRs of the individual mission elements.
GLAST was the topic of a special session at the New Orleans HEAD
meeting. The session was very well attended. Topics included mission
overview status, by Steve Ritz; X-ray astronomy and GLAST, by Richard
Mushotzky; the infrared / gamma-ray connection for AGN, by Ann Wehrle;
and blazars, pulsars, and unidentified sources, by Roger Romani. Dave
Thompson (LAT Multiwavelength Coordinator) spoke during the VERITAS
Workshop on the following day. GLAST had several posters and an E/PO
booth at the meeting.
GLAST E/PO News:
Six new GLAST Educator Ambassadors (EAs) were trained at an intensive
10-day session Sonoma State University over the summer of 2004, bringing
the total number of GLAST EAs to 10. The new EAs are: Jeff Adkins,
Sharla Dowding, Dee Duncan, Walter Glogowski, Ellen Holmes and Pamela
Whiffen. Sharla Dowding won the Wyoming Biology Teacher of the Year
Award for 2004, presented by the National Biology Teachers Assocation.
Teena Della won a $1000 travel award to the Canadian Space Educator
Agency Educator Conference in Montreal, Quebec as a result of an essay
she wrote about space travel. Jeff Adkins won the Antioch Teacher of
the Year Award presented by the Antioch (California) Unified School
District and his web site (http://astronomyteacher.com) was selected by
the Griffith Observatory for a Star Award. Ellen Holmes won the New
England Region AIAA Excellence in Aerospace Education Award for 2004.
For more about the GLAST Educator Ambassador Program see:
Since May, the GLAST EAs have given over 20 workshops and reached
hundreds of teachers across the country and Canada. During that time,
the combined Swift/GLAST booth appeared at numerous science and
education meetings as well, including the SLAC Community Day in April in
Stanford, CA; the AAS meeting in May in Denver, CO; the American
Association Physics Teachers national meeting in July/August in
Sacramento, CA; the HEAD meeting in September in New Orleans, LA; SLAC
Family Day in September in Stanford, CA; and the California Science
Teachers Association meeting in October, in San Jose, CA. The GLAST E/PO
program poster was also presented at the New Orleans HEAD meeting.
A draft of the second module of the TOPS Learning Systems activity
series, "Scaling the Universe" is now in its final review and should be
printed by December 2004. A draft of the third module is currently being
created. The third module features simple exercises that explore the
angular sizes of common objects as well as objects in the Universe.
A pop-up book showing the nucleus of an active galaxy is being created
for younger students. It includes a "Just-So" story entitled "How the
Galaxy Got its Jets," and a glossary. It also includes the "Tasty Active
Galaxy" activity, in which students can make a model of the nucleus of
an active galaxy out of edible materials, including a bagel (the dust
torus), ice cream cones (the jets), and a donut hole (the black hole).
The activity has been extensively tested and is both fun and delicious.
The activity and other pop-up book images can be found here:
A GLAST-sponsored Space Mystery -- interactive, web-based activities
which put students in the role of "space sleuth" -- is being created to
teach students about galaxies in general and active galaxies in
particular, with the final investigation being whether the Milky Way is
an active galaxy or not. This Mystery is currently in the production
GLAST and XMM-Newton E/PO are jointly sponsoring a Supernova Educators
Unit with a series of classroom activities. Please see the XMM-Newton
entry for more information.
Other GLAST E/PO products include GLAST stickers designed by the GLAST
E/PO artist Aurore Simonnet; a GLAST card game in the final stages of
development; the GLAST public brochure; and an article Phil Plait
authored an article entitled "Into The Wild Gamma-ray Yonder" that
appeared in the November/December 2003 issue of Stardate magazine. GLAST
materials are also being used in the "Modeling the Universe" short
course, a seminar/workshop given to teachers using SEU-sponsored E/PO
products to teach them about the size and scale of the Universe and the
astronomical objects in it.
The GLAST Optical Robotic Telescope (GORT) observatory had its first
light on July 24th, 2004. The celebration coincided with the biannual
teacher training of the (EAs), who were able to experiment first-hand
with GORT, and see how GORT and the GLAST-sponsored Global Telescope
network could help them in their classrooms, and with the instruction of
other teachers. The GTN website has also undergone a major renovation
with the goal of integrating our communication tools and astronomy
widgets to create a series of loosely formatted activities that students
and teachers could use at whatever level they wanted. During this period
of GTN development the AAVSO was modifying their photometric data
archives to include all of our GTN program objects as well as several
other modifications to their protocols in order to better facilitate the
The UC Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) conducts
workshops for students and teachers throughout the year. A major event
for both teachers and students is the yearly "Balloon Fest" in which
groups of students compete to build experiments to be launched using
weather balloons. These experiments return data, which are analyzed and
then presented to the other competitors and judges. The GLAST E/PO group
sent Prof. Gordon Spear, Tim Graves, Gray Slater and student Dakota
Decker to this year's Balloon Fest, which was held April 2-3, 2004 in
Paso Robles, California. Dr. Spear gave a talk about the Global
Telescope Network and Graves, Slater and Decker assisted the competing
teams and with the judging. This was followed by a one-week teacher
workshop to continue the balloon experiment data analysis, held July
For more information about the GLAST E/PO effort, please visit http://glast.sonoma.edu.
Back to Top
8. RHESSI Mission News - David M. Smith, U. C. Santa Cruz
The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) has
passed its 1000th day in excellent health and continues to perform solar
observations and accumulate exposure to the entire sky for non-solar
astrophysics. Since we vented the cryostat holding the germanium
detectors to space earlier this year, the performance of the cryocooler,
which was declining during the first two years of the mission, has
actually turned around and begun to improve. Detector #2, which was
performing poorly for most of the mission, has also improved, and its rear
segment can now be used for astrophysics.
In June of this year, approximately one week of good imaging data on the
Crab Nebula was obtained, and this difficult analysis is in progress, with
the prospect of 5" or possibly better resolution up to about 100 keV.
Other astrophysical projects in progress include the study of Galactic
gamma-ray lines from recent nucleosynthesis (which is becoming more
difficult as the detectors accumulate radiation damage -- annealing is
possible but not likely in the near future), the use of detector/detector
occultation to monitor bright Galactic point sources, gamma-ray burst and
soft-gamma-repeater spectroscopy, and tracking of the pulse periods in the
brightest accreting pulsars to study accretion torques. RHESSI data are
public, and anyone interested in analyzing RHESSI data for astrophysics
should contact David Smith for help with access (dsmith (at)
RHESSI solar results will be presented at the American Geophysical Union
Fall meeting in San Francisco, December 13-17, and at the
RHESSI/SOHO/TRACE workshop in Sonoma, CA, December 8-11.
Back to Top
9. HETE Mission News - George Ricker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and Don Lamb, University of Chicago
Now completing its fourth year of operations, HETE continues to provide
the observer community with prompt, accurate localizations and spectral
characteristics of GRB sources. The HETE spacecraft and dedicated ground
network continue to operate reliably and efficiently. All three science
instruments (i.e., the gamma-ray [Fregate], the medium energy X-ray
[WXM], and the soft X-ray cameras [SXC]) continue to work well. HETE is
currently localizing ~20-25 GRBs per year, with 75 GRBs localized thus
far in 4 years of operation. HETE's localization sample includes 23
X-ray flashes (XRFs). Twenty-nine HETE localizations have led to
detection of an X-ray, optical or radio afterglow. Redshifts have been
reported for 17 HETE-localized GRBs. The harvest from SXC-refined
localizations of initial WXM detections continues to be particularly
rich, with 15 of 17 recent localizations resulting in optical or near IR
counterparts; i.e., 88% have IR or optical counterparts. Thus, almost no
SXC-localized bursts have been optically dark.
During the past year, the increasing number of HETE bursts that have
measured redshifts and that are well-characterized spectrally has
greatly extended the range and robustness of the so-called "Amati
relation," which correlates Epeak, the value of the peak energy of the
spectrum in nFn, to the burst isotropic energy, Eiso (Amati et al.
2000). Atteia (2003) has utilized this relation to establish an
empirical burst redshift estimator that is accurate to a factor of ~1.3.
Based on this estimator, Atteia (2004) suggests that ~10% of
HETE-localized GRBs are at redshifts z>6 and that one in particular
(GRB031026) may have occurred at z~14. More recently, Ghirlanda et al.
(2004) and Dai et al. (2004) have argued that a model-dependent
correction of the prompt burst energy for the jet opening angle results
in a surprisingly accurate "standard ruler" applicable to cosmography
for redshifts up to z~10, well beyond the range z=0 to z~1.5 currently
accessible for Type Ia supernovae. Increased numbers of well-measured
bursts by HETE and Swift will be important to test and calibrate this
promising new methodology, as emphasized by Friedman and Bloom (2004).
As the most extreme burst population known, X-Ray Flashes (XRFs) provide
severe constraints on burst models and unique insights into the
structure of GRB jets, the GRB rate, and the nature of Type Ic
supernovae. New insights about the nature of XRFs have come from recent
observations of these events by HETE and X-ray, optical, and radio
follow-up observations of their afterglows. Still, many key questions
about XRFs remain unanswered. These include: Is the total energy
radiated by XRFs much less than the total energy radiated by GRBs (as
some observations indicate)? Does the burst population extend down to
events with peak energies at UV and optical wavelengths? Is the XRF
population a direct extension of the GRB and "X-ray rich" GRB
populations, or is it a distinct population? If it is a direct
extension, are XRFs a separate component of GRBs? If it is not, are XRFs
due to different physics than GRBs? There has been a surge in
theoretical modeling of XRFs in the past year, much of it attempting to
address these questions.
The launch of Swift is expected very shortly. We look forward to a
scientific partnership between HETE and Swift in which HETE rapidly
localizes many XRFs and characterizes their spectra, and Swift slews to
these events, bringing its XRT and UVOT instruments to bear on them and
determining their redshifts. In this way, 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. HETE also synergizes with Swift in three crucial
- HETE can approximately double the number of very bright GRBs at z < 0.5 that Swift's 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: these bursts are crucial for using GRBs as probes of the very high z universe.
- HETE can provide prompt fluences (Sbolometric), and spectral parameters (Epeak) for HETE bursts that Swift can follow up: these data are crucial for confirming that the Eiso-Epeak relation extends to XRFs and for confirming strong GRB evolution with redshift.
The scientific discoveries that HETE has made, the ways in which it is
complementary to and synergizes with Swift, and its low operating cost
make a compelling case for continuing the HETE mission during the Swift
mission. Recognizing this, the 2004 NASA Senior Review recommended that
HETE mission operations overlap with Swift mission operations for at
least one year, with the possibility of a further extension, to fully
exploit the scientific partnership between HETE and Swift.
The HETE Science Team is providing a variety of calibrated data products
to the observer community in near-real time. Complete Fregate light
curves and the results of first-cut spectral analyses are posted 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. At present,
the following information is posted: spectral fits to the data;
calculated values of Epeak; the 25-100 keV fluence; the burst duration;
and a plot of the spectral fit generated by XSPEC (to allow any
interested observer the opportunity to check the automated results). 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. Further details and caveats on the method are described at
The burst web page includes color-color plots of the Fregate band C
(30-400 keV) to band A (7-40 keV) vs. band B (7-80 keV) to band A
ratios, which the HETE Science Team has found to be an excellent means
of identifying XRFs. Light curves and results of spectral analyses
available for the full set of localized GRBs detected by HETE are also
posted, beginning with bursts localized in December 2000. Also posted
for each burst are the burst name, classification, J2000 coordinates,
redshift (if known), Epeak, t90, fluence (30-400 keV), light curve, and
a sky map. These data are accessible at
http://space.mit.edu/HETE/Bursts/Data/. A description of the relevant
data sets and details regarding their analysis is also provided on this
page; more exhaustive descriptions of the spectral and temporal
properties of these bursts, including references, are being
systematically published in refereed journals.
Back to Top
10. Chandra X-ray Observatory Operations Report -
Roger Brissenden, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,
and Martin Weisskopf, Marshall Space Flight Center
The Chandra Observatory continued to operate with excellent spacecraft
and science instrument performance during the last six months. Chandra
passed the major milestone of 5 years of successful science operations
on July 23.
Operations highlights have included the completion in July of the
summer eclipse season with nominal power and thermal performance, the
uplink in August of a flight software patch to implement an improved
approach to patching the safemode computer during safe mode
transitions and eclipse operations, an aspect camera dark current
calibration that indicates nominal trends warm pixels, and overall
excellent continued spacecraft performance as indicated by the mission
The operations team successfully faced a series of challenges during
the summer eclipse season. Special preparations were made for a
penumbra-only eclipse, including a full ground simulation and a series
of contingency software patches. In addition, contingency actions were
required for 3 of the eclipses when the radiation safing stored
command sequence ran just prior to eclipse due to puffed up radiation
belts. All contingency actions (some under time pressure) were handled
expertly by the team and procedures to resume science were completed
The EPHIN radiation detector has continued to exhibit occasional cases
of anomalous behavior due to high temperatures resulting from
increased thermal environments. The mission planning team are working
to minimize high temperature attitudes and the engineering team are
nearing completion of a flight software change to allow the use of the
HRC anto-coincidence shield data in place of EPHIN data for radiation
detection. A patch allowing the on-board computer to read HRC data in
place of EPHIN data was uplinked on 1 Sept.
The overall average observing efficiency was 65% during the last 6
months, somewhat lower than the expected ~70%, due primarily to solar
activity in June, July and November. The schedule was also interrupted
7 times to observe fast turn-around Targets of Opportunity that
required schedule replans with response times ranging from 1 to 3
Both the ACIS and HRC focal plane instruments have continued to
operate well overall. In September, the Chandra project decided to
postpone indefinitely the bakeout of the ACIS instrument. The purpose
of the bakeout is to remove much or most of the contaminant believed
to be present on the ACIS Optical Blocking Filter (OBF). The major
effect of the contaminant is to reduce the ACIS effective area at
lower energies. There are two reasons for the delay. The proposed
bakeout intended to use additional heaters on the Science Instrument
Module (SIM) to heat the ACIS aperture in the SIM and the top of the
ACIS collimator to improve the effectiveness of the bakeout. A safety
review revealed a concern that the heaters may pose a threat to other
heaters located on the same circuit. Second, further analysis of the
rate at which the contaminant(s) have built up in the centers and
edges of the OBFs indicates that the contaminant(s) might be less
volatile than what was assumed in the simulations of the bakeout. The
team will continue to investigate the feasibility of a bakeout of the
A flight software patch to ACIS was made in June to correct an
occasional error in its raw-mode in which rows of CCD pixels are
dropped from output telemetry. The patch also provided a modification
that will allow for the future addition of timed-exposure modes
without increasing code or testing complexity.
The processing, archiving and distribution of Chandra data has
continued without issues, 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 remaining at
~200 to ~300 GB per month.
The Control Center ground team has completed the initial development
and configuration phase of a port of the ground system software to
Linux, and will begin the testing phase in December. The system is
planned for operational use in the first Quarter of next year.
The observing program is expected to transition from Cycle 5 to Cycle
6 in December as planned and the Cycle 7 Call for Proposals will be
issued in mid-December.
Back to Top
11. Swift Mission News - Lynn Cominsky and Phil Plait, Sonoma State University
After enduring 3 hurricanes and some faulty rocket parts, Swift blasted
into orbit at 12:16 PM on Saturday November 20, 2004. A dedicated group
from the Swift team and their families remained in Florida to witness
the picture-perfect launch from pad 17A at the Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station. A film crew from Thomas Lucas productions was also on hand to
capture the launch excitement. The spacecraft separated from the rocket
after about 80 minutes, the solar panels deployed and telemetry began
flowing to the Penn State Mission Operations Center. Daily updates from
Mission Director John Nousek can be read at:
Swift is now being controlled from the Mission Operations Center at Penn
State, and is in the checkout phase for up to 45 days. During this time,
the spacecraft will be fully exercised, and within about 3 weeks, all
three scientific instruments will become fully operational. Following
the checkout phase, a 90-day verification phase will occur. Burst
results will begin to be reported to the GCN during this period
following confirmation analysis by the BAT team, while public data will
be available through the HEASARC following the end of the verification.
Earlier in the week, the launch was delayed for three days, as engineers
and rocket scientists tried to pin down the source of some garbled
communications from the "command-destruct" electronics on board the
Boeing Delta II 7320 rocket. When their debugging efforts proved
fruitless, new parts were flown in and installed and tested, resulting
in a 3-day delay in the launch.
Two press briefings were held on Tuesday November 13: the first
discussed the Swift science goals, and featured Paul Hertz (NASA HQ),
Principal Investigator Neil Gehrels (GSFC), UK lead Alan Wells
(Leicester) and Italian lead Guido Chincarini (Brera Observatory). The
pre-launch briefing discussed the launch conditions, flight plans and
weather, and included Anne Kinney (NASA HQ), Project Manager Joe Dezio
(GSFC) and members of the KSC launch team. The previous day, two Swift
webcasts were produced, featuring live Q&A by Neil Gehrels as well as
taped segments from Mission Director John Nousek (Penn State) and Joe
Post-launch press coverage of Swift was outstanding - perhaps setting
records for launch coverage of an Explorer mission. Over 200 televised
media spots on cable and local channels and another more than 200 print
and web media articles appeared following launch. Estimated audience is
over 27 million viewers and/or readers.
Swift had been resident at KSC since July 29, and endured the onslaught
of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne. Frances, by far the worse,
tore part of the roof off the building that housed Swift, which was
loaded back into its shipping container to ride out the storm. KSC
closed for 11 days for Frances, and so many panels were ripped off KSC's
landmark Vertical Assembly building that you could see right through it.
Integration of Swift with the rocket could not continue until the hangar
in which it was located was repaired, and that had to wait for the
passage of Ivan and Jeanne.
A special day-long Swift scientific meeting was held in conjunction with
the HEAD Meeting in New Orleans in September. Presentations included
reviews of the mission operations, ground system, data archiving plans
and capabilities of the Swift instruments. Plans for follow up were
presented by many participants describing telescopes and facilities that
span the globe. And reviews of current state of our observational and
theoretical knowledge of gamma-ray bursts were also presented.
Presentations can be found here:
Notices of intent for Cycle 2 of Swift Guest Investigator program will
most likely be due on May 13, 2005. A formal amendment to ROSS-04,
containing definitive due dates, well be released soon. For more
information on how to propose, please see:
Swift E/PO News
Swift E/PO has been revving up to support the launch of the observatory.
We have taken the lead on producing materials for the guest packets (to
be handed out at launch) as well as producing the press kit and other
materials for the media.
SSU-provided items in the guest packets include an informational
brochure about Swift, a lithograph with an image of Swift and more
information, a Swift sticker, the Swift model booklet, a CD that is a
current capture of the Swift mission and E/PO web sites, and a copy of
the Gamma-Ray Burst activity poster (see below). We also arranged for
additional items from launch services and from Spectrum Astro, including
a launch poster, an embroidered mission patch, and a keychain.Most of
the items in the guest packet were designed by Swift E/PO team artist
Aurore Simonnet. Also, Swift polo and T-shirts were made for the team,
and are currently being distributed.
Also in preparation for launch, the Swift E/PO web site was redesigned
to implement the new "One-NASA" web format and was reorganized to fit
together seamlessly with the science site, maintained by GSFC
(http://swift.gsfc.nasa.gov). The E/PO site is now a button on the
Science site but can still be accessed separately at:
Tom Lucas Productions has filmed the Swift launch for use in a
large-format full digital dome planetarium show, in development with the
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and primarily funded by NSF. The
launch footage will also be used in a PBS NOVA show, to be aired in
2006, which has been funded by a combination of GLAST E/PO and NSF. Both
shows feature black holes.
Swift has appeared in many magazine and news articles recently,
including a feature article in Popular Science, a two-page spread in
Science, and articles in Nature, The Guardian, The Register, The
Scotsman, New Scientist, The Houston Chronicle, Space.Com, Florida Today
and an outstanding pre-launch article in the New York Times.
We have selected three additional Swift Educator Ambassadors (Tom
Arnold, Bruce Hemp and David Beier), bringing the total to five. The EAs
help develop, evaluate, test, and disseminate Swift and other E/PO
materials through the SEU theme area. The first two EAs trained for 1
week at Sonoma State University in the summer of 2002, and all five of
them trained for 10 days in the summer of 2004. Two of the five teachers
were formerly members of the Swift Education Committee, and the third,
David Beier, was chosen as the Missouri Aerospace Educator of the Year
for 2004. Rob Sparks, David Beier and Bruce Hemp all went to KSC to see
the launch, but due to the 3-day delay, only Bruce was still around for
the actual event.
The combined Swift/GLAST/XMM-Newton booth appeared at: the SLAC
Community Day in April in Stanford, CA; the AAS meeting in May in
Denver, CO; the American Association Physics Teachers national meeting
in July/August in Sacramento, CA; the HEAD meeting in September in New
Orleans, LA; SLAC Family Day in September in Stanford, CA; and the
California Science Teachers Association meeting in October, in San Jose,
CA. In that same time period, the Swift Educator Ambassador group gave
11 workshops to more than 275 teachers across the country, and the other
mission EAs also presented Swift materials at several other conferences.
The Swift E/PO poster was presented at the New Orleans HEAD meeting as
The Gamma-Ray Burst Educators Unit, a set of three Swift-based
educational classroom activities and a poster designed for high-school
students, was reviewed, finalized, and sent to the printers. This unit
has already been presented at several workshops, and has been met
enthusiastically by educators. Both the guide and poster can be
downloaded from http://swift.sonoma.edu/education/index.html#grb.
The Swift paper model booklet has been completed. 2500 copies have been
printed, and are being distributed at the launch, as well as science and
education conferences. See
An adaptation of the activity in the Swift GEMS guide called "Tour of
the Invisible Universe" is used in the "Modeling the Universe" short
course given to teachers at conferences (including the Educator
Ambassador training in July, the New Orleans HEAD meeting in September,
and the Atlanta NSTA conference in April). The essential question in
this activity is "What do we know about our Universe?" There are three
science concepts in this activity: the scale and structure of the
Universe is vast and complex; objects in space are viewed across the
whole electromagnetic spectrum; the Earth is one of many planets, in one
of many solar systems, in one of many galaxies in our Universe. This
activity teaches students about the different objects in space, the
general size and distance of the objects, and how different these
objects look in various wavelengths.
We have created a GRB alert website in collaboration with the Swift
outreach group in Leicester, UK. The website will wait for GRB alerts
from Swift (or HETE or INTEGRAL) then semi-automatically produces a web
page with information about the GRB including detection time, location
(including a map of the sky showing the location), the constellation in
which it is located (of interest to the press and to the public) and
updated follow-up information at one day then one week intervals. The
current location is: http://gtn.sonoma.edu/grb/, but soon will change
For more information about the Swift E/PO effort, please visit http://swift.sonoma.edu.
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12. Astro-E2 Mission News - Richard Kelley, Koji Mukai and Ilana Harrus, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Japan/US Astro-E2 observatory, Japan's fifth X-ray astronomy mission
and replacement for the original Astro-E mission lost in early 2000, is
nearing completion. The spacecraft has been fully assembled and tested,
and recently completed vibration testing. A final, full check out of
the observatory, including the instruments and the extendible optical
bench, is planned for mid December 2004.
It had been planned to launch Astro-E2 in early 2005, but this has now
been delayed to probably the summer of 2005. This has nothing to do
with Astro-E2 directly, but rather a decision by the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA), to prepare for the launch of a weather
satellite in February 2005 using an H-2A rocket. Additional testing of
the solid rocket motors for the H-2A, made by the same manufacturer as
the motors for the M-V that will carry Astro-E2 into orbit, requires
that the two launches be separated by a few months. A new launch date
will hopefully be announced in the next month or so.
Astro-E2 covers the energy range 0.3 - 600 keV with the three
instruments: an X-ray micro-calorimeter (X-ray Spectrometer or XRS),
X-ray CCDs (X-ray Imaging Spectrometer or XIS), and the hard X-ray
detector (HXD). The satellite was developed by the Institute of Space
and Astronautical Science (ISAS; now merged into one space agency, JAXA)
in collaboration with U.S. (NASA/GSFC, MIT) and other Japanese
Owing to cost constraints and the goal of rebuilding the observatory as
quickly as possible, Astro-E2 is almost entirely a copy of the original
Astro-E spacecraft. However, a limited number of changes were made to
improve the overall margin on meeting the science objectives of the
mission. These include an improved microcalorimeter array for the XRS,
which has a factor of two better energy resolution (6 eV), a Sterling
cycle cooler to extend the life of the XRS from 1.9 years to 2.4-3 years
(depending on the operational duty cycle), a backside-illumintated CCD
for one of the four CCD cameras that will increase the effective area at
lower energies, and mechanical precollimators for the five x-ray mirrors
to reduce stray x-ray light from off-axis sources.
Cycle 1 of the Astro-E2 Guest Observer Program was released earlier this
year. NASA received 160 observing proposals for from US investigators,
for a total of nearly 20 M sec of observing time, or an oversubscription
factor of roughly 4. In addition, ISAS/JAXA and ESA received 130 and 28
proposals, respectively. All three agencies have completed their
respective proposal reviews. However, no results will be published
until after the target overlaps have been resolved at the international
merging meeting, scheduled for December 7, 2004. The final target list
will be published on the NASA GSFC site at:
Astro-E2 E/PO News
Coming to a theater near you:
We will release, in time for the Oscar Ceremony, a movie on Astro-E2.
"Building the coolest X-ray satellite: Astro-E2" is an action-packed
movie telling the story of the mission. Aimed at high-school
students, the film touches on the science that Astro-E2 will be able
to tackle, the building of the mirrors and the XRS. The release will
be accompanied by a teacher's guide and distributed to schools across
Competition for students grade 9-12:
The Astro-E2 E/PO program is offering a new and innovative program
that will open the doors of research to a team of highly motivated,
independent high-school students. From January to April 2005, we will
accept and review observing proposals from high-school teams for the
use of data from the Astro-E2 X-ray satellite. Each entry to the
competition will describe a research project and an astronomical
observation (anything from galaxies or black holes to supernova
remnants or stars) to be carried out by Astro-E2. The winning team
work with professional astronomers and present the results of their
analysis at the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
Students participating in this program will learn about cutting edge
research problems in astronomy and astrophysics, work with
professional astronomers and understand the challenges of any
For more information on the Astro-E2 outreach program, please visit
the Astro-E2 Learning Center web site at
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13. Astrostatistics Workshop Resources - Vinay Kashyap, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
A workshop on AstroStatistics was held during the HEAD meeting at
New Orleans. The workshop dealt with data analysis challenges
facing astrophysicists and new algorithms and statistical methods
that are becoming available. The workshop involved tutorial style
talks on Bayesian Blocks, new statistical methods on timing analysis,
and challenges facing GLAST data analysis, followed by a panel
discussion on new software now becoming available for public use.
The presentations, discussions, and audience comments are now online
This site will be updated with links to software sites and other
information as they become available.
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14. News from NASA Headquarters -
Lou Kaluzienski, NASA Headquarters.
Personnel Changes in the Universe Division
There will be several personnel changes relevant to NASA's High Energy
Astrophysics program in 2005. Two new HEA program scientists have joined
the Division on 2-year appointments under the Intergovernmental Personnel
Act (IPA). Wilt Sanders from the x-ray astronomy group at the University
of Wisconsin joined NASA Headquarters in August, and Rick Harnden, a
member of the High Energy Astrophysics Division at the Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics, began his NASA tour in November. The arrival of
Wilt and Rick meshes well with the upcoming departures of Don Kniffen and
Lou Kaluzienski. Don has been serving as HEA discipline scientist for
over 5 years. He has provided scientific leadership on the GLAST mission
in his role as Program Scientist, as well as on the operating missions
Chandra, HETE-2, INTEGRAL and CGRO (prior to its reentry in 2000). In
addition, Don has been the focal point for the gamma-ray component of the
HEA Research & Analysis Program. Don's IPA appointment expires on January
31, when he will be moving to GSFC to work on SWIFT, INTEGRAL and other
HEA programs. Lou, who has served as Discipline Scientist for High Energy
Astrophysics at NASA HQ since 1978, will begin a 1-year assignment at
Goddard in January. In Lou's absence, Wilt and Rick will be assuming the
day-to-day responsibilities of the HEA program, with Wilt focusing on the
x-ray astronomy effort and Rick responsible for gamma-ray astronomy.
Former contributor of the NASA HEA updates, Paul Hertz, has left his
position as SEU Theme Scientist in the Division and assumed the job of
Assistant Associate Administrator for Science in the new Science Mission
Directorate (SMD). Paul has played a critical role in advancing the
interests of the HEA discipline at NASA and will be missed within the
Division. Michael Salamon, who has held the position of Discipline
Scientist for Fundamental Physics since his arrival at NASA Headquarters
in July 2001, will assume Paul's responsibilities for strategic planning
and the Beyond Einstein program.
In November 2003, five SMEX proposals and one Mission of Opportunity
proposal were selected to conduct Phase A concept studies (see news
These included the HEA missions DUO (Dark Energy Observatory, PI Rich
Griffiths, Carnegie Melon U), NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope
Array, PI Fiona Harrison, Caltech), and the long duration balloon mission
ANITA (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna, PI Peter Gorham, U Hawaii).
The mission teams submitted their reports to NASA in June, and NASA has
completed the review of those reports including site visits. The
announcement of the selected missions has not been made at the time of
HEA Supporting Research & Technology (SR&T) Program Status Report
Under the Astronomy & Physics Research & Analysis (APRA) Program element
in the 2004 Research Opportunities in Space Science (ROSS-04)
announcement, a total of 30 proposals were received for SR&T projects
relevant to NASA's x-ray and gamma-ray astronomy disciplines. Selections
are expected by calendar-year end.
Upcoming Proposal Opportunities
Over 35 proposing opportunities for space science supporting research,
technology, and analysis were contained in the 2004 Research Opportunities
in Space Science (ROSS-04). The ROSS-04 and all other proposal
opportunities are listed at
A new INTEGRAL Archival and Theoretical Research Program was added to the
ROSS-04 solicitation, with proposals due 15 February 2005 (see the above
research web site for details). Also of interest to the HEAD community is
the upcoming Swift Cycle 2 Guest Investigator Program proposal due date of
July 8, 2005 (for further details, see:
With the reorganization of NASA Headquarters combining the former Office
of Space Science (Code S) and the former Mission to Planet Earth (Code Y),
the 2005 NASA Research Announcement soliciting basic research proposals
will be known as Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science
(ROSES-05) and is planned for release in January 2005. Proposals for
participation in the RXTE Cycle 11 Guest Investigator Program will be
solicited in that announcement. Due to their launch delays, however, the
announcements for the ASTRO-E2 Cycle 2 and Swift Cycle 3 Guest
Investigator Programs will be deferred until ROSES-06.
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15. Meeting Announcements
The Future of Cosmology with Clusters of Galaxies (26 February - 2 March 2005, Kona, Hawaii)
An international conference on "The Future of Cosmology with Clusters of
Galaxies" will be held 26 February to 2 March 2005 at the Marriott
Waikoloa Beach Resort in Kona, Hawaii. The conference will bring
theorists, observers at various wavelengths, and computational modelers
together to assess our current understanding of clusters as a population
and to prepare a roadmap for the extraction of cosmological information
from future large surveys. The meeting is jointly sponsored by the
Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics, the Kavli Institute for
Cosmological Physics at U. Chicago and the Institute for Astronomy at
U. Hawaii, with support from NSF and NASA. Registration is open until
28 January. See http://www.umich.edu/~mctp/future for details.
Towards a Network of Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes VII (27 - 29 April 2005, Palaiseau, France)
This conference continues the series "Towards a Major Atmospheric
Cherenkov Detector" on ground-based gamma-ray astronomy that began at
Ecole Polytechnique in 1992, and subsequently was hosted in Calgary
(1993), Tokyo (1994), Padova (1995), Kruger Park (1997), and Snowbird
(1999). With the rapidly evolving developments in the field spawned by
a new generation of stereoscopic systems and large Cherenkov telescopes
(HESS, CANGAROO-III, VERITAS, MAGIC), which provide a much higher
sensitivity and/or a much lower energy threshold, the emphasis is
turning to telescope arrays. This conference will convene at the
Ecole Polytechnique at Palaiseau in the suburbs of Paris, and cover the following
(1) status of VHE astrophysics in 2005: new instruments and
(2) from shower images to astrophysical imaging,
(3) multi-wavelength observations and phenomenology of high-energy
(4) new projects in ground-based high-energy astrophysics,
(5) instrumentation and calibration for Cherenkov telescopes;
inter-calibration with space instruments,
(6) data archiving and formatting and link with mainstream astrophysics.
Theoretical aspects directly influencing the new experimental challenges
should will be addressed, but only to provide the background for the
discussion on future strategies which are the main goal of the conference.
For details, see the conference Web site:
Astrophysical Sources of High Energy Particles and Radiation (20 - 24 June, 2005, Torun, Poland)
This international conference will be held in Torun, Poland
(organizers: B. Rudak, Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center,
and M. Baring, Rice University).
It will be a follow-up of the conference "Particle Acceleration
in Astrophysical Objects" held in Krakow in 2003.
The objective of the conference is to review and discuss
latest observational results in high-energy astronomy and their
impact on theories of particle acceleration and energy dissipation
in astrophysical sources. A broad class of astrophysical sources of
high energy particles and radiation - from stellar to
extragalactic objects - will be covered.
The following topics will be addressed:
(1) high-energy background radiation and cosmic rays,
(2) gamma-ray bursts, X-ray flashes, and their afterglows,
(3) dynamics and radiative processes of relativistic inflows and
outflows in black hole systems and neutron star systems,
(4) magnetospheric activity of pulsars and magnetars,
(5) magnetic reconnection in classical and relativistic plasma,
(6) physics of relativistic shocks and particle acceleration processes,
(7) polarization studies in X-rays and gamma-rays.
The conference website is
Ultra-relativistic Jets in Astrophysics (11 - 15 July 2005, Banff, Canada)
The 2005 Banff conference on "Ultra-relativistic Jets in Astrophysics:
Observations, Theory and Simulations" (URJA2005) will be held in the
week of July 11-15, 2005 at the Banff Center within the beautiful
resorts of the Banff national Park in Alberta, Canada (visit the
URJA2005 website at http://www.capca.ucalgary.ca/meetings/banff2005/).
URJA2005 seeks to bring together observational, theoretical, and
numerical astrophysicists interested in high energy astrophysical
phenomena, particularly AGN/quasar jets, pulsar winds/jets, and GRB
jets, of moderate and elevated Lorentz factors. Topics explored will
include the mechanisms which drive (eject, accelerate, collimate and
stabilize) these jet phenomena, their interaction with their
environment, and the remarkable similarities in the jet morphologies
spanning vast differences in scale and energy. The SOC welcomes
scientists working on related high energy phenomena, such as those
studying mechanisms of UHECR acceleration, and in particular models and
ideas linking relativistic jets to UHECRs. URJA2005 shall foster more
interaction between these two communities, to learn about the recent
advances being made by each, and discuss strategies for solving the
problems which remain in the areas of observation, theory, and
simulation. The URJA2005 SOC plans to format the meeting so that equal
weight will be placed on these three areas.
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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: