For release: 05/18/04
Release #: 04-146
Chicago native honored for x-ray astronomy research
Dr. Martin Weisskopf, project scientist for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Marshall Center, has received a 2003 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Executives.
Photo: Weisskopf (NASA/MSFC)
Dr. Martin Weisskopf, project scientist for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has received a 2003 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Executives. He was among a group of about 25 federal senior professionals honored with the prestigious award at a ceremony in Washington.
Each year, the president recognizes a select group of senior government executives who have demonstrated strength, integrity and commitment to the public trust. Candidates are nominated by their federal agency heads, and a panel of private citizens evaluates the candidates, selecting only those who, through their personal conduct and results-oriented leadership, qualify for referral to the president, who makes the final designation.
Weisskopf has dedicated more than 25 years of his career to Chandra, the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. Since its launch in 1999, the Chandra observatory has helped scientists better understand the structure and evolution of the universe, generating the most sensitive or "deepest" X-ray exposure ever made, shedding new insight on planets including Mars and Jupiter, finding an X-ray ring around the Crab Nebula, and making numerous discoveries involving supermassive black holes. Weisskopf also serves as chief scientist for X-ray Astronomy in the Space Sciences Department at the Marshall Center.
Weisskopf grew up in Chicago. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1964, and his doctorate in physics from Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., in 1969.
He joined NASA in 1977, working at the Marshall Center as senior X-ray astronomer and project scientist for Chandra. He previously served as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University, New York, N.Y. He has held numerous special appointments during his career, including senior co-investigator of the European Space Agency's international X-ray imaging experiment and principal investigator of a major experimental research program initiated in 1978 that currently concentrates on the development of X-ray optics.
Weisskopf is based at the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville. Focusing on space science, Earth science, materials science, biotechnology, propulsion, information technology and advanced optics and energy technology, the research center enables scientists, engineers and educators to share research and other facilities. In addition to the Marshall Center, its partnering institutions include industry and Alabama research universities.
Weisskopf and his wife, Mary Ellen, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, live in the Huntsville area. Weisskopf has two children, two stepchildren and four grandchildren.
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