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Newsletter No. 70 May 1997 

  1. Notes from the Editor
  2. Upcoming HEAD Meeting in Estes Park, CO, in November
  3. Other Meetings
  4. Notes from NASA Headquarters
  5. RXTE Guest Observer Program: Proposal Due date Sept. 5, 1997
  6. RXTE News
  7. August 1997 Multiwavelength Campaign for EGRET Blazar 1622-297

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Notes from the Editor
(Alan Marscher, HEAD Secretary-Treasurer,; phone: 617-353-5029)



apologize for the lateness of the May 1997 HEAD Newsletter, which is actually being sent out in mid-June. But, I appeal to your sympathy for the new guy on the block. After a few months of sorting through all the material inherited from my predecessor, Kevin Hurley (whom we should all thank for 3 hard-working years in a thankless job), I think that I have the system figured out and most of the e-mail addresses up to date.

The new HEAD Web site is at Please check it out and let me know if you notice something that is missing. I will review it monthly to check for outdated items, etc., so please don't e-mail me about these, since I don't want to be inundated by e-mail from many of our > 700 members! Among several useful items on the Web page is a membership list. For many members, this list contains e-mail addresses that are more up to date than found in the AAS Membership Directory.

We also have an e-mail exploder for announcements of general interest to HEAD members. If you have an item that you would like to announce in this way, please contact me and I will send you the e-mail address of the exploder.

If you receive a hard-copy of this newsletter but did not receive an electronic version, yet you have an e-mail address, please send me e-mail so that I can update your address. Thanks - I find that keeping current with the e-mail addresses is the most frustrating aspect of this job.

I was sorry to learn of the recent death of Bud Jacobson, who suffered a fatal heart attack. Bud was a Rossi Prize recipient, the long-time leader of the gamma-ray effort at JPL, and a very nice person.

HEAD holds its own meeting once every 1.5 years, with the next one only 5 months away, in Estes Park, Colorado. Information is given below.

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Upcoming HEAD Meeting in Estes Park, CO, in November

John Vallergo of Eureka Scientific is in charge of the arrangements for the
Fall 1997 HEAD meeting, which will be held November 4-7, 1997, at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
For more information, contact:, or

Please remember that HEAD had a press officer (Lynn Cominsky) and deputy press officer (Paul Hertz). They will be active with press releases at the Estes Park meeting.

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Other Meetings

25th International Cosmic Ray Conference, Durban, South Africa, July 28 - August 8, 1997.
Contact: or

23rd General Assembly of the IAU, Kyoto, Japan, August 18-30, 1997.  A Joint Discussion on High Energy Transients will be part of the program, as well as a symposium on hot astrophysical plasmas, five other symposia, and about 15 joint discussions, on a wide range of astronomical topics.  Anyone interested in presenting a paper or poster should contact Virginia Trimble, chair of the SOC (

4th Huntsville Symposium on Gamma-Ray Bursts, Huntsville, Alabama, September 15-19, 1997.
Contact::  C. Meegan ( or (

Symposium: "The Active X-Ray Sky. Results from Beppo-SAX and Rossi-XTE" Rome, Italy, October 22-24, 1997.
Contact:  Symposium Helpdesk ( or (

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Notes from NASA Headquarters

    - from Alan Bunner Science Program Director for Structure and Evolution of the Universe

The May 1997 NASA Strategic Planning Retreat is now behind us. This exercise, organized by NASA's Office of Space Science (OSS), had as its main goal reaching a community consensus on a plan for budget initiatives in the next few years (augmentations and "new starts" in the FY 2000 - 2004 period), as well as developing a long term "roadmap" of needed space science missions over a period stretching out to about 2020.

The meeting took place at Breckenridge, Colorado, and involved some 75 scientists, science communication experts, and Administration officials.

The new OSS strategic plan is designed around the theme of "Origins, Evolution, and Destiny," a theme that encompasses all of space science and serves astrophysics quite well. The basis for the plan is a set of broad fundamental questions and goals that were critiqued and edited by the retreat attendees. Wes Huntress, Associate Administrator for Space Science, put forward a strawman mission set that contained missions in four categories: (1) the existing (funded) program, (2) initiatives in the President's FY 1998 budget (and understood to be continued in the "out years"), (3) additional, proposed new starts and augmentations up through 2004, (4) proposed missions beyond 2004. Category 2 includes "Origins" program enhancements, including funding for the Keck Interferometer, Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), Space Interferometer Mission (SIM), an enhanced Mars program, an Outer Planets mission line, technology augmentations for "Origins" and planetary missions, and an Astrobiology R&A program. Category 2 initiatives are considered almost "sold" to Congress.  Category 3 includes new starts for the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) in FY 2001, the High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy mission (HTXS) in FY 2004, a Solar Terrestrial Probe series, an OSS-wide international missions of opportunity line beginning with funding for a U.S. role in ESA's Far Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope (FIRST) beginning in FY 2000, and an MO&DA augmentation for an extended mission for AXAF (beyond the nominal 5 year life). (Funding for a modest U.S. role in ESA's Planck mission is already in the budget.) Category 3 initiatives are part of the core of the new OSS strategic plan but are NOT sold in terms of any acceptance by the Administration or Congress. Category 4 includes Advanced Radio Interferometry between Space and Earth (ARISE), Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), and the Orbiting array of Wide-angle Light collectors (OWL), all of which are currently funded mission concept studies.

OSS initiatives in category 3 will have to compete for new funds alongside other NASA initiatives in such areas as new launch vehicles, aeronautics, technology initiatives, etc. Further, missions in categories 2 and 3 will only get Phase C/D starts after they have demonstrated technological and cost readiness.

In short, we have an OSS strategic plan that is inclusive of most of the priorities set by the community and documented by the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) and the Search for Origins Subcommittee and their respective Roadmap documents. Cosmology and black holes are included explicitly in the strategic plan's fundamental questions and implicitly in the OSS mission statement. The Roadmap also emphasizes the past success and future promise of the Explorer program.

The elements of the draft OSS strategic plan can be viewed on the OSS web page at

The Science roadmap created by the SEUS (under the capable leadership of Roger Blandford) can be viewed at:

The corresponding SEU Technology roadmap and mission portfolio can be found at:

Next steps in the realization of these plans for FY 2000-2004 include solidifying the technology funding that has been identified as necessary for the advent of FIRST, GLAST, and HTXS. Pre-Project Offices have been formed (at JPL for FIRST; at GSFC for GLAST and HTXS) to guide the current phase of these studies.

All of us are hopeful that the space science community will rally behind this plan and press our friends at OSTP and OMB and in Congress for its implementation. (Please note new e-mail address)
(Mailing address: Code SA, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546)

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RXTE Guest Observer Program: Proposal Due date Sept. 5, 1997

    - Paul Hertz and Alan Smale.

On May 26, 1997, NASA Office of Space Science (OSS) is releasing a Research Announcement (NRA 97-OSS-09) entitled Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer Guest Observer Program (Cycle 3) that solicits proposals for participation in the NASA OSS program to acquire and analyze scientific data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). This Research Announcement is the third for RXTE guest observations and solicits proposals for observations to be carried out beginning about December 1, 1997, and lasting twelve months. Participation in this program is open to all categories of organizations, both domestic and foreign, including  educational institutions, NASA Centers, profit and nonprofit organizations, and other U. S. Government agencies. Proposals are due on September 5, 1997.

Upon its release date, this Research Announcement may be downloadeddirectly from the World Wide Web site "" by selecting the "Research Opportunities" menu. Printed copies may be requested by E-mail to or from the RXTE Guest Observer Facility, Code 660.2, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt, MD 20771-0001; phone (301) 286-7063. Obtain additional programmatic information from Dr. Paul Hertz, Code SR, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001; phone (202) 358-0351; E-mail

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    - From the RXTE team

    1.  The RXTE Science Data Center at NASA/GSFC has begun a reprocessing of AO-1 data, to fill in gaps that appear in some datasets. All AO-1 GOs will receive new tapes as this reprocessing proceeds. Note that this reprocessing will not affect results you may have already obtained from your current RXTE data tapes, but may merely provide some missing sections of data that may be 'new' to you.

    2.  Following a recommendation by the RXTE Users Committee, NASA HQ has decided that RXTE proprietary data rights will be extended by up to six months for PIs of observations performed in AO-1. (To be specific: AO-1 data will now go public twelve months after the receipt of the original data tape, or six months after the receipt of the reprocessed data tape, whichever is _later_. AO-2 data rights are unaffected.)

    3.  NASA Headquarters and the RXTE GOF expect to issue an announcement for the third cycle of observations in late May/early June, with a proposal due date in late August/early September. AO-3 observations will commence on or near the beginning of 1998 and last for one year. This is just a heads-up; an official announcement will follow in due course.

    In addition, we'd like to remind you that:

    i.  if you're analyzing RXTE data, you should be using the latest and greatest FTOOLS 3.6.1, which was released last month;

    ii.  if you're anxious about your cash flow, you can now check the status of your AO-1 and AO-2 RXTE grants (budgets) by taking a look at our online Web pages.

    Details about these items and many more can be found by going to the GOF homepage at

    and clicking on the "What's New" icon. We encourage you to visit regularly to get the latest news from RXTE, and check out our fast-growing collection of data analysis recipes.

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August 1997 Multiwavelength Campaign for EGRET Blazar 1622-297

John Mattox, Boston University, has organized a multiwavelength study of the brightest EGRET blazar, PKS 1622-297. This blazar was observed in 1995 to be temporarily the brightest GeV gamma-ray source in the sky and showed intra-day gamma-ray variability (Ap J, 476, 697). Simultaneous CGRO and RXTE monitoring will be done between 8/19/97 and 8/26/97. It is expected that by 5 pm EDT on 8/22/97, a preliminary result will be obtained for the GeV flux during the first 2.5 days of EGRET exposure. If a high state is discovered, Mattox will request that the CGRO and RXTE observations be extended, and will solicit high temporal density observations at mm, IR, and optical wavelengths. More details and updates during the campaign are available to all at Please contact if you wish to participate in high temporal density observations in the event of a flare.
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HEADNEWS, the electronic newsletter of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, is issued by the Secretary-Treasurer, at the Department of Astronomy, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215. The HEAD Executive Committee Members are:

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    Created By: Tim Graves and Lynn Cominsky, June 14, 1999