September 30th, 2015

In case of a shutdown of the US Government, this site provides updates and guidance to CRESST personnel.

This morning, we received the following message from our GSFC Grants Officer:

"As you are probably aware, there is a possibility that the Federal Government may shut down starting Thursday morning, October 1, 2015, if the President does not sign an appropriations bill that provides FY 2016 funding. However, even if an appropriations bill is not passed prior to October 1, 2015, NASA has received approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to continue its normal operations through Saturday, October 3, 2015 using prior year funds. As a result, the NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. and Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) (including the Greenbelt, Wallops, IV&V, White Sands, and GISS installations) will remain open for normal operations for all civil servants and contractor employees through October 3."

We expect the shutdown should be avoided through actions in process downtown today. However, if the Government is not funded today, the Center will remain open to continue normal work operations through this coming Saturday. After that, if this comes to pass, Civil Servants and contractors would need to stop work until the Government is funded. However, as we communicated before, you, working under the Cooperative Agreement, would be able to continue work, from home or another location off-site, unless and until we are notified otherwise.

Stay tuned for further updates guidance.

CRESST Management Council


July-September, 2015

  • Dr. Sylvain Guiriec has been awarded the 2015 Young Scientist Prize from the Astrophysics Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). This is in recognition of his "...insightful and innovative contributions towards understanding the nature of gamma ray burst prompt emission, in particular the establishment of multi-component spectra, and the discovery of a new Peak Energy – Luminosity relation showing that GRBs can be used as standard candles and thereby as unique cosmological probes." Sylvain will formally receive the prize during the Texas symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics, which will be held in Geneva this December.

April-June, 2015

  • The Klumpke-Roberts Award was awarded to Dr. Jerry Bonnell, and his co-creator Dr. Robert Nemiroff (Michigan Technological University), for outstanding contributions to public understanding and appreciation of astronomy, on their Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website.

January-March, 2015

  • Francesco Tombesi's first author article on black hole winds was published in Nature, March 26, 2015. From observations obtained from the JAXA/NASA's Suzaku X-ray mission and ESA's Herschel Space Observatory in infrared, Tombesi and his collaborators found the first direct evidence that a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center of a galaxy is producing very powerful winds that are blowing out molecular gas on scales of 1,000 light years from the center. This reinforces the idea that black holes play an important role in the evolution of their host galaxies, removing the gas out of which stars form.
  • Dr. Wade Henning and collaborators were awarded a 3-year funding grant from the NASA ROSES Exoplanets Research Program titled “Tidal Dynamics and Orbital Evolution of Terrestrial Class Exoplanets with Time Varying Internal Melt Fractions.” This work builds on Dr. Henning’s past work on tidal interactions with the orbits of moons in our Solar System and the maintenance of fluid cores in moons, as recently exemplified by his just published paper titled “Tidal Heating in a Magma Ocean within Jupiter’s Moon Io.”

October-December, 2014

  • Yang Soong, as a member of the Astro-H Soft X-ray Telescope Team, received a 2014 Robert A. Goddard Group Exceptional Achievement Award for Science: "For development and timely delivery of the Astro-H Soft X-ray Telescopes, with performance exceeding mission goals."

April - June, 2014

  • CRESST/UMD graduate students, Gabriele Betancourt and Krista Smith, have each won NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships (NESSF)! These provide $24 K stipend plus other support, renewable for up to three years. Only nine NESSF fellowships were awarded nationwide by NASA this year. Gabriele also won a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship, the technology counterpart to the NESSF.
  • Francesco Tombesi was awarded the Early Career Research Scientist Prize for Excellence by the UMD Astronomy Department.

January - March, 2014

  • CRESST scientists, Elizabeth Ferrara, Sylvain Guiriec, Alex Moiseev, Roberto Nemmen, Eleonora Troja, and Sylvia Zhu, were co-authors on two papers in a single volume of Science: Preece and co-authors, and Ackermann and co-authors. The articles are on one of the most energetic Gamma Ray Burst sources ever observed, GRB 130427A whose spectral and temporal behaviors are challenging to all existing models for GRB events. Specifically the data challenge concept that the high-energy emission is synchrotron emission from electrons accelerated by a strong external shock.

October - December, 2013

  • NICER completed successfully its Preliminary Design Review and Payload Safety Review early December 2013. CRESST scientists involved include Zaven Arzoumanian, Wayne Baumgartner, Lalit Jalota, John Krizmanic, Mike Loewenstein, Yang Soong and Steve Sturner.

July - September, 2013

  • Six CRESST scientists received Astrophysics Science Division peer awards: Simon Bandler, "for focusing on next-generation calorimeter development at Goddard to make sure essential progress is made; Thomas Hams, "for his exceptional contributions to the Super-TIGER program, including overall leadership of the effort to prepare the instrument for its record-breaking Antarctic flight; Barbara Mattson, "for her creativity, determination, and resilience in guiding ASD's E/PO efforts for NASA's Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins programs;" Kenichi Sakai, "for his outstanding work in Goddard experimental cosmic ray programs, including the BESS-Polar and Super-TIGER program;" Makoto Sasaki, "for his outstanding contributions to the Super-TIGER program, especially this past year's Antarctic campaign;" and Yang Soong, "for his dedication to improve X-ray mirror performance and tremendous contributions to ASTRO-H and GEMS mirrors."

April - June, 2013

  • Dale Fixen was the recipient of a NASA Robert H. Goddard award for individual scientific achievement: "For exceptional, sustained performance in astrophysical instrumentation and analysis resulting in significant improvement to COBE, JWST and 20 balloon missions."

January-March, 2013

  • Keith Arnaud, Michael Corcoran, Stephen Drake, and Steve Sturner, as members of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archival Research Center, were recognized through a GSFC Team Exceptional Achievement Award for Science. The citation reads: “For enabling new science results from NASA missions by providing high-quality software for data search, retrieval, and analysis through the HEASARC.”

October-December, 2012

  • Brett Morris, a UMD undergraduate student, had a first-author paper (working with Prof Drake Deming) accepted in Astrophysical Journal Letters (see ) on Kepler observations of planet-induced stellar gravity darkening in the HAT-P-7b exoplanet system. This work was picked up by Science magazine and is getting attention (see ).
  • Drs. Thomas Hams, Jason Link, Makoto Sasaki, and Kenichi Sakai are Co-Investigators on the Super-TIGER long-duration balloon experiment. Super-TIGER launched from Antarctica on December 9, 2012 and set a new flight duration record in the Antarctic. The mission was very successful and the data look promising. Super-TIGER measures the rare heavy elements in the high-energy cosmic rays bombarding Earth from elsewhere in our Milky Way Galaxy.

July-September, 2012

  • UMD Graduate student Ms. Jessica Donaldson used the Herschel Space Observatory to observe and model the debris disks around 6 stars in the 30-Million year old Tucana-Horologium Association. The modeling suggests that these systems have inner holes in their disks ranging from 4.5 to 52 AU.
  • Dr. Tim Livengood published the whole-Earth disk spectrum as measured by the EPOXI spacecraft. This observational “ground-truthing” is valuable for future missions to seek the emission from Earth-like planets are other stars.
  • Dr. Francesco Tombesi published the second and third papers in his series studying the ultra-fast outflows from radio quiet active galactic nuclei. These winds originate within 100 to10,000 Schwarzschild radii of the black hole and contain enough energy and momentum to significantly contribute to AGN cosmological feedback.

April-June, 2012

  • As a result of his 2011 Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Science, Dr. Conor Nixon was invited by the Physics Department at UMBC to present a seminar on April 25th, entitled "REMOTE SENSING OF TITAN FROM CASSINI."

January-March, 2012

  • Dr. Sander Goossens was a co-author on “Gravity Field and Internal Structure of Mercury from MESSENGER,” to be published in Science Magazine in April, 2012
  • Dr. Esra Bulbul and Dr. Nick Thomas both joined CRESST early in the calendar year. Dr. Bulbul is working with Dr. Maxim Markovitch, and, among other activities, has been developing the new XSPEC model, snapec, and successfully applying it to XMM-Newton EPIC and RGS observations of nearby galaxy cluster, A3112. Dr. Thomas is working on Diffuse X-ray emission from the Local Galaxy (DXL) instrument. DXL is comprised of two large area thin window proportional counters designed to make observations in the ¼ and ¾ keV energy bands. It will be flown on a sounding rocket in December 2012. DXL's scientific goal is to observe soft X-ray emission from Solar Wind Charge eXchange (SWCX).

October-December, 2011

  • The Mars Science Laboratory launched on November 26, 2011 and will arrive at Mars in August 2012. A number of CRESST scientists are associated with the Sample Analysis at Mare Instrument on-board the rover.
  • Dr. Sander Goossens co-authored the first comprehensive gravity field model for Mercury in th Journal of Geophysical Research.

July-September, 2011

  • Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian is Deputy PI and science lead for the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer proposal, which was selected for a detailed concept study.
  • Dr. Keith Arnaud was lead editor and contributing author for the “Handbook of X-ray Astronomy” to be published by Cambridge University Press
  • Tomomi Watanabe received an ASD Peer Award for her outstanding support of the calorimeter group, extraordinary work on the Astro-H project and overall pleasant demeanor. The citation reads: "Tomomi spends the majority of her time working with the Astro-H project where, among many other things, she spends countless hours in the clean room meticulously assembling small, delicate parts. In addition to her Astro-H work, Tomomi is always ready to help wirebond all of the set-ups for the TES work. She is always willing to fit our wirebonding jobs into her busy schedule and completes them quickly, often with very short notice and changes in schedule. Additionally, Tomomi will go out of her way to make sure a job is finished as soon as possible, even coming into work only to finish a wirebond job or when she would otherwise stay home sick."
  • Dr. Megan E. Eckart also received an ASD Peer Award for her outstanding performance to the ASD in the many crucial responsibilities she has so enthusiastically undertaken. The citation reads: "Megan juggles many roles with aplomb. She is responsible for the design and testing of the TES calorimeter array for the Micro-X sounding rocket experiment, she is the lead calibration scientist for the Astro-H SXS, and she is pursuing fundamental TES characterization and optimization. Though busy, Megan doesn't shortchange any of her responsibilities and is always willing to help out colleagues however needed. If a thankless task needs to be done, Megan is the first to volunteer and performs without exception."

April-June, 2011

  • Dr. Conor Nixon received a 2011 Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Science. The award came in recognition of his "exceptional efforts to maximize the scientific return of Titan from the Cassini Composite Infrared Spectrometer."
  • The HEASARC, where Steve Drake, Mike Corcoran, Keith Arnaud, and Steve Sturner provide significant contributions, was given the top rating of excellent in the NASA 2011 Senior Review of Archival Data Centers and recommended for full funding at the requested level

January-March, 2011

  • CRESST/UMD graduate student Megan DeCesar has discovered two new millisecond pulsars. These are neutron stars that spin hundreds of times each second, their radio beam sweeping past Earth each rotation. They have recently been found to also emit gamma-ray pulsations by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, leading astronomers to search unidentified gamma-ray sources for radio (and later gamma-ray) pulsations. Megan used this technique to discover a millisecond pulsar that is likely a gamma-ray pulsar as well. She also searched globular clusters that were detected in gamma-rays and found another new millisecond pulsar that may be a cluster member.

October-December, 2010

  • Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian was Deputy PI and science lead for the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer proposal (PI: Keith Gendreau)
  • Dr. Keith Arnaud is lead editor and contributing author for the "Handbook of X-ray Astronomy" to be published by Cambridge University Press
  • Dr. Gerry Skinner participated in IRAD-supported work led by Dr. Brian Dennis which fabricated back-etched Phase Fresnel Lenses of only a few microns thickness. The lenses were measured to achieve 13 milli-arcsecond angular resolution for 4.5 keV X-rays

July-September, 2010

  • The Fermi Science Team, which includes 12 CRESST scientists, won the Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award for Science. The Large Area Telescope, Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, and Science Support Center teams were recognized for the award. The Fermi science team, published 89 refereed papers in CRESST Year 4.
  • Michael Koss (UMCP graduate student) featured in a NASA press release titled "Swift Survey find Smoking gun of black hole activation" which confirmed suspections that the black holes at the centers of galaxies "light up" during galaxy collisions and mergers.
  • Dr. James Lochner completed the "Prototyping New Media for Cosmic Times" project.
  • Dr. Simon Bandler was awarded a 3-year grant from the NASA Solar & Heliospheric Physics Supporting Research & Technology (SR&T) program for his proposal "High Spectral Resolution, High Cadence, Imaging X-ray Microcalorimeters for Solar Physics - Phase 2."
  • Dr. Alexander Moiseev was named one of the Science and Exploration Directorate GSFC honor award winners, in the Science category, for leading the Fermi LAT electron study. Although the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Large Area Telescope (LAT) was designed primarily as a gamma-ray telescope, Dr. Moiseev recognized even before the start of the mission that it is also a very capabile instrument for measurement of high-energy cosmic-ray electrons. This topic has been of particular interest in recent years because some earlier balloon measurements found unusual features in the cosmic-ray electron measurements that suggested a local origin, possibly from some form of dark matter particle decays. Dr. Moiseev developed analysis methods for the LAT to select electrons rather than gamma rays, concentrating on very high energies, above 20 GeV and extending to 1 TeV. The resulting paper, "Measurement of the Cosmic Ray e++e- Spectrum from 20 GeV to 1 TeV with the Fermi Large Area Telescope," appeared in Physical Review Letters, 102, 181101, May, 2009, with Dr. Moiseev listed as a contact author

January-March, 2010

  • Dr. James Lochner appointed as E/PO lead for the Astrophysics Division
  • Ms. Sophie Li joined CRESST as the new Business Manager, replacing David Havrilla who retired to Arizona.

October-December, 2009

  • Dr. James Lochner became acting E/PO lead for the Astrophysics Division. Also, he received an Opportunities in Education and Public Outreach for Earth and Space Science award for his proposal: "Sharing NASA Internet Education Resources beyond the Web."
  • Drs. Krimm and Sakamoto participated in the accepted Nature paper "A γ-ray Burst at a Redshift of z~8.2"; Tanvir, N. R, et. al.

July-September, 2009

  • Dr. Rick Arendt was PI on a successful NASA/ROSES ADP proposal titled “New Measurement of the Near-IR Extragalactic Background vua Analysis of COBE/DIRBE Zodical Light Polarization”
  • Dr. Simon Bandler was PI on a successful NASA ROSES APRA proposal titled “High Spectral Resolution, High Cadence, Imaging X-ray Microcalorimeters for Solar Physics”.
  • Dr. Joanne Hill was PI on a successful NASA APRA proposal titled “A Gamma-ray Burst Polarimeter: an Instrument for Mid-STAR2 Mission of Opportunity.
  • During this year, Dr. Kenji Numata developed a new technique to measure the frequency noise of lasers. Also, Dr. Numata came up with an idea of using compact hollow core fiber as a replacement for bulky gas cells used in many future missions as a laser frequency reference.
  • Dr. Alex Kutyrev is a co-author of a new NTR, submitted to NASA eNTRe: "Technology methods of improving the visible and infrared contrast ratio of micro-shutter arrays"

July-September, 2008

  • Drs. Kai-Wing Chan, Nikolai Shaposhnikov, and Craig Markwardt earned 2008 NASA Peer Awards by the Astrophysics Science Division. Craig Markwardt was also named as recipient of a GSFC Honor Award 2008 for Exceptional Achievement in Engineering. Information on their activities include:
    • Dr. Kai-Wing Chan (CRESST/UMBC) was recognized for his sustained contributions to advanced X-ray instrumentation. Dr. Chan made important contributions to three instruments that were successfully delivered to three separate missions: Astro-E1, InFOCUS, and Suzaku. He also has contributed to R&D on Constellation-X's soft X-ray mirrors, where his technical contributions have achieved a 15" angular resolution of a pair of reflectors in the X-ray.
    • Dr Nikolai Shaposhnikov (CRESST/USRA) was recognized for his scientific analysis that uncovered the smallest black hole known. His analysis of many different data sets found patterns in the timing and spectral behavior of black holes and neutron stars. Careful comparison with a theory for a relation between the timing and the spectral properties yielded dynamical masses, including the mass for the smallest black hole yet measured. This idea of the smallest black hole yet measured caught the fancy of the press and was picked up all over the world.
    • Dr. Craig Markwardt (CRESST/UMCP) was recognized for his solution of the problem of the misaligned gyros which returned the Swift Observatory to full operation. The Swift mission was in jeopardy in August 2007 when intermittent glitches of one of its two gyros became large and increasingly more frequent. Dr. Markwardt's work gave him an understanding of why the misalignment of the gyro axes caused such a problem, making it possible to test ideas for dealing with the misalignment. His approach worked and the current flight software was then used to continue Swift to normal operations in October 2007.
  • Dr. Anita Krishnamurthi was also a co-recipient of a GSFC team Exceptional Achievement in Outreach award for her contributions to "Family Science Night."

April-June, 2008

  • Dr. Fotis Gavriil's work on magnetar-like X-ray bursts from the young pulsar PSR J18460258 in the SNR Kes 75 is featured in the June issue of Sky & Telescope (which also features GLAST as a cover story). The original paper appeared in the March 28th issue of Science. The article also appeared in ScienceXpress (Feb 21), and was a NASA/GSFC News "Top Story" in Feb. Links to the articles can be found at

October-December, 2007

  • Two CRESST scientists received GSFC Honor Awards:
    • Sudip Bhattacharyya (Space Science Achievement): In recognition of his "pioneering x-ray studies of neutron stars to explore and test fundamental physical theories in extreme environments."
    • Stefan Immler (Space Science Achievement): In recognition of his "innovative use of Swift to explore X-ray emission from supernovae."
  • Dr. Takanori Sakamoto joins the CRESST consortium at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Taka has been at NASA/GSFC since 2004, and is a Swift BAT team member. He is involved in a development of the automatic pipeline scripts of the BAT GRB data and also in on-board calibration of the energy response matrices of the BAT. His primary science interest is the radiation process of the prompt GRB emission, and is collecting multiwavelength data to investigate the spectral and temporal characteristics of the prompt GRB emission. He is also interested in using GRBs as a cosmological tool.

October-December, 2007

  • Dr. Katja Pottschmidt joins the CRESST consortium, at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is working in the INTEGRAL GOF at NASA/GSFC. Previously, Katja worked as a member of the RXTE-HEXTE team at the University of California, San Diego and prior to that as an archive scientist at the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre in Versoix, near Geneva Switzerland. Her main research interest are X-ray binaries, especially black hole binaries and accreting X-ray pulsars, using high resolution X-ray timing analysis including higher order Fourier statistics. Katja also studies the accretion columns and magnetic fields of X-ray pulsars by modeling their broad band spectra, including cyclotron resonance scattering features.


(Last update: 10/19/15)