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Marshall Scientist Dr. Jonathan Cirtain Receives Presidential Early Career Award
Dr. Jonathan Cirtain receives PECASE award from Chuck Gay, Acting Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. Dr. Jonathan Cirtain receives PECASE award from Chuck Gay, Acting Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. (NASA/Carla Cioffi)
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Dr. Jonathan W. Cirtain, an astrophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. is among the four NASA researchers President Obama named as recipients of the 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE.

Cirtain was recognized for his outstanding research on basic physical processes observed in solar and space plasmas through innovative engineering and instrument designs. All four award recipients were nominated by NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The awards were announced in September and presented during a ceremony today in Washington.

The PECASE award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The award recognizes recipients' exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, education or community outreach.

"Dr. Cirtain has been extremely influential in bringing a renewed energy to Marshall's solar physics work," said Dr. Daniel Schumacher, Manager of the Science & Technology Office at Marshall Space Flight Center. "His innovative engineering designs and processes have pioneered new advances in the heliophysics field."

Cirtain came to Marshall in 2007 as an astrophysicist. He serves as the project scientist for Hinode, a joint U.S.-Japanese mission to study the sun, and as principal investigator for two sounding rocket experiments: the High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) and the Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Instrument (SUMI). Hi-C will be launched from White Sands Missile Range on June 19, 2012 and SUMI will complete its second launch on June 12, 2012, also from White Sands.

Cirtain also is the institutional principal investigator for the Solar Wind Electrons, Alpha and Protons instrument or SWEAP, slated to launch no later than 2018 aboard the Solar Probe + mission to explore unprecedented regions in space, transforming our understanding of the sun and its effects on the solar system.

Among his numerous past achievements and honors, Cirtain received the 2011 NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement for his work developing solar physics instrumentation. This medal is awarded to any individual in the federal service for a significant, specific accomplishment or substantial improvement in operations, efficiency, service, financial savings, science, or technology which contributes to the NASA mission. The 2010 NASA recipients were nominated by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

Cirtain received his award in a ceremony on Friday, October 14 in Washington D.C.

For more information about Cirtain's work, visit:



Janet Anderson
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.