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SSU Program Updates. July 26, 2010 Professor Lynn Cominsky. Current SSU Missions. Fermi (formerly GLAST) - launched June 11, 2008 – nominal mission is 5 years – Project Scientist Julie McEnery will update Swift – launched November 20, 2004 XMM-Newton – launched December, 1999

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Ssu program updates

SSU Program Updates

July 26, 2010

Professor Lynn Cominsky

Current ssu missions
Current SSU Missions

  • Fermi (formerly GLAST) - launched June 11, 2008 – nominal mission is 5 years – Project Scientist Julie McEnery will update

  • Swift – launched November 20, 2004

  • XMM-Newton – launched December, 1999

  • NuSTAR – now in Phase C/D, planned for Feb. 2012 launch

  • SNAP – reconsituted as JDEM = Joint Dark Energy Mission. In limbo pending “Blandford committee” report

  • EXIST – also in limbo…

Changes in the ea program
Changes in the EA program

  • Fermi EAs have resigned: Walter Glogowski, Sharla Dowding

  • Fermi EA has had a baby – Janet Moore – cannot be with us this week

  • Linda Smith, Fermi EA is in Master’s program at Penn which will not let her attend training week

  • David Beier has had some health problems recently and is under Dr’s order not to fly

  • NuSTAR EA Bill Panczner has had serious surgery and has had to retire.

  • Tyson Harty (Georgia) is with us this week to see if he will join the program.

Senior review results 2010
Senior Review Results 2010

  • Happens every 2 years – determines funding for next 2-4 years.

  • Fermi was not reviewed – it is in its 5-year nominal mission. It will be up for review in 2012 cycle.

Swift and the sr review
Swift and the Sr. Review

  • Swift was #1 in the 2008 senior review. However, it still did well in this review: “Swift was launched on November 30, 2004 and is presently operating well. There are no known issues that would prevent operation for many more years.”

  • “Swift is a productive and important mission making significant contributions to astronomy. The Swift Guest Investigator program is producing very good science and should continue to be a key component of the mission.”

  • Funding was recommended at the expected level through 2012, with reassessment for 2013-2014.

  • I expect to receive sufficient Swift E/PO funds for at least two more years, to continue to fund the 5 Swift EAs. And probably for four more years.

Xmm and the sr review
XMM and the Sr. Review

  • XMM was rated #8/10 in 2008. It did much better this year. “XMM-Newton, launched in 1999, is a facility-class X-ray observatory that is a cornerstone of ESA’s Horizon 2000 program. It retains strong European support, and in the most recent review of extended ESA missions it was among the most highly rated. After a decade of operation, the spacecraft health and performance remain satisfactory”

  • Because XMM was rated so low in 2008, it came into the Sr. Review with a very low “in-guide” number. Therefore, they asked for an augmentation for 2011-2014. This was approved for 2011, with more for 2012, and another review for 2013-2014.

  • I am waiting to see how this translates into money for E/PO. I will probably know by the Fall.

Ea shuffle
EA Shuffle….

  • So if XMM funding is seriously cut, the two XMM EAs will switch over to being funded by Fermi, which is now 2 EAs short.

  • But we won’t know until Fall.

  • Also, travel money seems to be at a premium since so many people are overrunning.

  • I can’t afford to keep the stipends the same, and also raise the travel funding. Last time we raised both…. Let’s discuss.

New ssu project s
New SSU Project(s)

  • Funding received for development of an on-line general education Cosmology course for undergraduates – in progress. We will have a short presentation by Geraldine Cochran, who has been doing education research with Prof. Kim Coble about students’ views in Cosmology

  • SSU is trying to get funding for other projects – High School CanSat and high-powered rocket curriculum development, Palomar Observatory museum exhibit to augment NuSTAR E/PO program, and (at least one) potential new Explorer satellite. Results for the first two should be announced in the late Fall 2010.

Fermi update details from julie mcenery project scientist

Bright blazar

Gamma-ray pulsar


High-mass binary

Radio galaxy

Globular cluster

Fermi Update – details from Julie McEnery, Project Scientist

Fermi products
Fermi products

  • Updated since launch:

    • Fermi factsheet

    • AGN guide – will be reprinted after EA training (also poster)

    • Fermi paper model

    • Fermi stickers (two types)

    • Fermi race card game

    • Fermi litho

  • Other products for educators:

    • Active Galaxy Pop-up Book and Ed guide

    • 3 TOPS modules

  • Also have to give away:

    • Fermi Epo’s Chronicles lithos

    • Fermi post-it notes pads


  • Swift continues to enjoy good health, has recently detected 500th burst.

  • Swift is now a mature mission, and although its primary science is still GRBs, there are many other exciting things that Swift is studying…

    • Supernovae

    • Active Galaxies

    • Other flares

Swift press worthy science
Swift Press-worthy Science

  • May 26, 2010 - NASA's Swift Survey finds 'Smoking Gun' of Black Hole Activation

  • April 19, 2010 - NASA's Swift Catches 500th Gamma-ray Burst

  • January 27, 2010 - Newborn Black Holes Boost Explosive Power of Supernovae

  • November 10, 2009 - Swift, XMM-Newton satellites tune into a middleweight black hole

  • September 16, 2009 - Swift Creates Best-Ever Ultraviolet Image of Andromeda Galaxy

  • June 8, 2009 - Keck Study Sheds New Light On ‘Dark’ Gamma-ray Bursts

Swift press worthy science1
Swift Press-worthy Science

  • April 28, 2009 - New Gamma-ray Burst Smashes Cosmic Distance Record

  • February 28, 2009 - NASA's Swift Spies Comet Lulin

  • February 10, 2009 - NASA's Swift, Fermi Probe Fireworks From a Flaring Gamma-Ray Star

  • January 6, 2009: NASA's Swift Shows Active Galaxies Are Different Near And Far

  • September 19, 2008 - Swift Catches Farthest Gamma-Ray Burst

  • September 10, 2008- "Naked-Eye" Gamma-Ray Burst Was Aimed Squarely At Earth

Swift uvot m31 tour
Swift/UVOT M31 tour


By NASA’s Stefan Immler

Most distant burst again
Most distant burst (again)

  • April 23, 2009 – redshift 8.2 or 630 million years after the BB

  • So far away that the optical afterglow was redshifted into infrared

  • Previous record holder GRB080913 had z=6.7, was 190 million light years closer

Naked eye burst grb080319b
“Naked Eye” Burst = GRB080319B

  • Afterglow so bright it could have been seen by someone’s unaided eye (if they had been looking)

  • Jet must have been aimed right at Earth, with particles traveling at 99.99995% c

The burst that blinded swift
The burst that “blinded” Swift

  • GRB100621A – so bright in x-rays that the XRT was saturated

  • Not noticed until UK astronomer Phil Evans returned from vacation and data were missing from this burst

  • He reconstructed the burst to determine that this was the brightest x-ray source ever seen by Swift – 143,000 x-ray photons per second!

  • Distance to burst was about 5 billion light years

XRT image shown in red to yellow colors.

The UVOT saw nothing unusual.

Swift products
Swift Products

  • Newton’s Laws poster set

  • Swift Eyes Through Time videos and educator’s guide (Penn State) - download

  • GRB Educator’s Guide and poster

  • Out of stock: Priorities?

    • Swift glider

    • Swift model booklets

  • Still available

    • Swift sticker

    • Swift mini-plots

  • Needing update: GEMS guide

Latest xmm news
Latest XMM News:


  • 6/21/10: XMM-Newton line detection provides new tool to probe extreme gravity

  • 5/31/10: Novel observing mode on XMM-Newton opens new perspectives on galaxy clusters

  • 5/27/10: Molecular clouds reveal a giant outburst of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy

  • 5/11/10: Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium in the Sculptor Wall

  • 5/10/10: Invisible light discovers the most distant cluster of galaxies – redshift 1.62, this is 9.6 billion light years

Sunyaev zel dovich effect
Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect

  • Photons from cosmic microwave background travel through clusters of galaxies on their way to our detectors

  • The electrons in the ionized (X-ray emitting) gas in the clusters interact with the CMB photons, modifying their spectrum in a special way – this is the “Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect”

  • The modified CMB spectrum can be measured by mm-wavelength telescopes

Xmm detections of galaxy clusters
XMM detections of galaxy clusters

  • Microwave contours in white

  • X-ray emitting gas: purple

  • Overlaid on optical image

  • The cluster has a mass of over 1015 solar masses,

    • a temperature of about 9.3 keV

    • redshift z=0.32

  • Needs multi-wavelength approach to detect and measure distant clusters

Latest xmm news1
Latest XMM News:

  • 4/30/10: Jets from BHs expel gas not only from their host galaxies but even from the space between galaxies in groups

Blue is radio jet

Red is X-ray emitting gas

Green is galaxy

Latest xmm news2
Latest XMM News:

  • 4/30/10: New XMM Source catalog brings total X-ray source counts to over ¼ million

Xmm newton products
XMM-Newton Products

  • We have restocked the Earth balls for the 3D magnetic field activity

  • Rulers have been reprinted – 6 inch version

  • Supernova guide is approved by NASA Product Review – but we are not printing them (CDs only)

  • Also still available online:

    • CLEA Lab “Dying Stars and the Birth of the Elements” and manual

    • Space Place “Black Hole Rescue” in English and Spanish

  • eXtreme Universe planetarium show is still in progress – Kevin John will show this on Wednesday

Ssu program updates

  • Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array

  • NuSTAR “slideshow” and pens – a few available

Nustar after launch
NuSTAR after launch

  • First focusing hard x-ray (6-80 keV)


Nustar hardware
NuSTAR hardware

  • Focusing optics – low background, compact detector

Ssu program updates

NuSTAR Hardware

Copenhagen (DTU-Space): optics coating

depth graded Pt/SiC and W/Si coatings

GSFC: optics slumping

>50% of flight substrates produced

similar to planned IXO process

measured figure: 20”-30”

ATK/Goleta: extendable mast

fully deployed flight mast

Columbia: optics assembly

expected performance: 43” (HPD), 7.5” (FWHM)

Caltech: focal plane

CdZnTe detectors

Ssu program updates

NuSTAR Baseline Science Plan (2 yr)

Objective #1: How are black holes distributed through the cosmos, and how do they affect the formation of galaxies?

Objective #2: How are stellar remnants distributed within the Galaxy and near the Galactic center?

Objective #3: How do stars explode and forge the elements that compose the Earth?

Objective #4: What powers the most extreme active galactic nuclei?

~6 months of unallocated science observing time in first 2 years for ToO’s, additional programs, and/or to respond to primary program

Other resources of interest
Other resources of interest:

  • GRB Lottery Site:

  • GRB Skymap Site:

  • GTN Site:

  • Black Hole Rescue:

  • Epo’s Chronicles:

  • MySpace, Facebook and CafePress sites for: Fermi (fermi), Swift (swiftsatellite), XMM-Newton (xmmnewton), Spaceship Epo

  • MySpace only for: NuSTAR (nustarsatellite)