Scientific Colloquium
May 4, 2016, 3:30 p.m., Building 3 Auditorium

"Exploration, Discovery, and Technology in Space Astrophysics"  

Our knowledge of the universe has grown exponentially since the beginning of the 20th century, driven in part by a rapid increase in observational capability. This growth began with the development of increasingly large telescopes on the ground, but accelerated at a remarkable rate as space facilities became available in the 1960s. The development of space observatories allowed scientists to take advantage of the space environment, exploring wavelengths hidden to ground-based observers and allowing unique disturbance-free observations in the familiar optical and infrared bands. The promise of space platforms for new observations, combined with the programs and long-term planning of the astronomical community have driven the development of detector and optical technologies that have generated huge steps in both ground based and space astronomy. I will describe the development of new techniques for astronomical spectroscopy that we have done at GSFC over the past 35 years. This is a story with much promise; the X-ray microcalorimeter was launched on the Japanese Astro-H mission in February, and the Near Infrared Spectrometer on JWST, with its GSFC-built microshutters, is completing its test program for a 2018 launch. I will describe the story of these developments, which required tremendous dedication by very talented teams of experimenters. These advances have not come easily, but are essential for the scientific advances that define NASA’s mission.

About the Speaker:

Samuel Harvey Moseley, Jr. is a senior astrophysicist in the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he came to Goddard and joined the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) team. Dr. Moseley received the Gruber Prize for Cosmology in recognition of the scientific achievements of the COBE team. Dr. Moseley is the inventor of the X-ray microcalorimeter, a sensitive detector used in X-ray astronomy. In 2007 Dr. Moseley received the American Astronomical Society’s Joseph Weber Award for his contributions to the development of astronomical detectors, and in 2013 he received SPIE's 2013 George W. Goddard Award for his work in space technology. He is currently the Principal Investigator for the James Webb Space Telescope’s microshutter array.

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