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NASA Selects Three Research Fellows for GLAST Mission
GLAST spacecraft Artist's concept of the GLAST spacecraft in orbit. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
After a nationwide search for junior science researchers on NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope (GLAST) mission, three people have been chosen for these prestigious post-doctoral positions.

The purpose of the fellowship program is to support outstanding postdoctoral scientists who endeavor to advance understanding of the gamma-ray universe. The goal of the program is to stimulate an infusion of new ideas, techniques, and approaches that will enhance the scientific return of GLAST, which will survey the high-energy sky with unprecedented sensitivity. The GLAST Fellows Program is administered for NASA by the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology, a collaboration between the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Universities Space Research Association.

Each Fellow proposes his or her own research program and decides where it will be conducted (following prior agreement with the chosen host institution). That is, if a host institution agrees to provide them with office space, etc. "The selection of Fellows allows the GLAST mission to sponsor the best and brightest candidates to do independent research that will benefit the mission," said Lynn Cominsky, GLAST Astrophysicist, GLAST Press Officer, and Education and Public Outreach Lead, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif.

"The most important aspect of choosing fellows is that GLAST represents a very large leap forward in capabilities, so it is important to foster new ideas on how to use the data," said Steve Ritz, GLAST Project Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "Even one creative new idea can have a huge impact on the scientific legacy of the mission."

The program will provide each of these three Fellows with annual stipends for up to three years: Nat Butler of the Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley; Uri Keshet of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass; and Vasiliki Pavlidou of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

GLAST's scientific objectives are to:

  • Explore the most extreme environments in the universe, where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything possible on Earth.
  • Search for signs of new laws of physics and what composes the mysterious dark matter.
  • Explain how black holes accelerate immense jets of material to nearly light speed.
  • Help crack the mysteries of the stupendously powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.
  • Answer long-standing questions about a broad range of phenomena, including solar flares, pulsars and the origin of cosmic rays.

    GLAST is slated to launch May 16, 2008 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

    NASA's GLAST mission is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

    Related links:

    > GLAST website
    > University of Maryland Website on GLAST Fellows
    > GLAST Fellows announcement

    Rob Gutro
    NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center