Government Shutdown:

    The purpose of this and any susequent posting under this header is to provide guidance to CRESST II employees from the CRESST II Management Council, during the 2019 US Government shutdown. We will update postings as additional information becomes available.

      (Friday Afternoon, January 11, 2019)

    While we remain optimistic the shutdown will come to an end before we run out of funds, we are working on contingency plans to minimize disruptions and to enable funding of salaries for as long as possible. With this in mind, we need to refine our previous guidelines concerning travel, as follows:

    • Until further notice, the CRESST II partner institutions will not approve CRESST II task travel request for travel starting beyond February 5th or where the traveler would be returning to Maryland after Feb 6. Contact your respective business manager to discuss such cases.

    • If you have already approved travel which starts or ends beyond Feb 6, do not make further arrangements/reservations, and contact your respective business manager to discuss what actions can be taken to minimize expense commitments.

    • On the assumption that the shutdown will soon come to an end, everyone should continue to submit travel requests as normal, but your business office will not approve them if they do not meet the above travel restrictions – until the shutdown is over.

    • If CRESST II receives a stop work order (not expected), or if you are notified that we have run out of funding, scientists on travel at the time would need to terminate their travel effective within a day and return home; the traveler would be reimbursed for costs incurred.

    Please let me, or your respective Associate Director, know if you have questions or concerns. We will keep you informed on further developments. Thanks for your patience during this difficult period.

      (Wednesday Morning, January 2, 2019)

      As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, December 22nd, 2018, a partial shutdown of normal US Government operations is in effect. At present, it appears this situation will continue some time into January. So, to reiterate what has already been communicated via e-mail:

    • GSFC is closed to all non-essential workers, including all CRESST II personnel – unless you are individually exempted by NASA (and individually so informed).

    • Because CRESST II operates under a Cooperative Agreement, we are authorized to continue our activities until we run out of allocated funding – or unless we receive a stop-work order from our GSFC Procurement Officer. CRESST II is currently funded into mid-February.

    • While civil servants are instructed not to work during the shutdown, CRESST II scientists ARE on a normal work and pay schedule. You must either work your normal hours, or take leave or sick time.

    • If your sponsor or other civil servants tell you to stop work as a result of the shutdown, please contact David Holdridge and we will communicate with the civil servants regarding CRESST II's operating status.

    • If you cannot work at home, you may work at your home institution. If you feel that you cannot work at home or absent GSFC resources or personnel, contact your respective CRESST II Associate Director and plans will be worked out on a case-by-case basis.

    • You may continue to use NASA e-mail unless otherwise instructed.

    • Scientists with approved travel, or currently on travel, should take or continue on their travel (just be sure it's approved by your home institution, prior to departure).

    • Scientists who have planned vacation should take the planned time off, still recorded as vacation time.

    • There is a small chance the government could issue CRESST II institutions a stop-work order, or, if the shutdown lasts past the end of January, we could run out of funding. Also, NASA/GSFC may implement an electronic shutdown of NASA and/or GSFC-based servers, including mail servers. If so, we will issue further guidance and instructions.

    • Our goal is that all CRESST II employees continue to work and be paid normally until GSFC can resume normal operations. This is our current status. We will inform you if we are required to change our status. CRESST II admin and management personnel will be working and available for assistance starting January 2. If you need it, e-mail contact information is on the website (under Contact). We will post off-Center phone numbers if this proves necessary.

    • Please check this CRESST II website ( frequently for subsequent updates and guidance.

    CRESST II Retreat Highlights - November 2018

      The annual CRESST II Retreat was held on Friday, November 16, 2018. Over 50 CRESST II scientists met at the University of Maryland - Baltimore County to exchange information on the variety of CRESST-affiliated projects taking places at Goddard. CRESST scientists gave eleven presentation and displayed sixteen posters on topics including the geophysical consequences for scattered terrestrial exoplanets, exploration of lava tubes in California, and insights into the modeling of the Apollo 17 lunar landing site. The retreat allowed each scientist to reconnect with past colleagues or meet new ones, and to leave with a greater understanding of the breadth of projects occurring within the CRESST Program. Thank you to all who participated, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the 2019 CRESST Retreat.

      Shawn Domagal-Goldman describing his research on exoplanet science with space-based observatories.

      Nicole Whelley displaying her poster on the work of the Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT).

      Dina Bower explaining her work on the versatility of Raman spectroscopy for planetary science.

      Wade Henning presenting is work on the geophysical consequences for scattered terrestrial exoplanets.

    Science Highlights - Summer, 2018

    • The GSFC/ASD Communications Team received a Special Act - Team award "For outstanding support fo Astrophysics Science Division communications," dated August 1, 2018. The CRESST II team members include Frank Reddy, Sara Mitchell, Jeanette Kazmierczak, and Barbara Mattson..

    • CRESST II scientist Dr. Wade G. Henning was a recipient of one of three Early Career Public Achievement Medals granted GSFC. The award was for outstanding and significant early career contributions toward understanding terrestrial exoplanet interiors.

    • CRESST II scientists Dr. Eleonora Troja and Dr. Elizabeth Ferrara received awards for their accomplishments from the UMD Astronomy Department. Dr. Troja received the Early Career Research Scientist Prize for Excellence. Dr. Ferrara received the Distinguished Research Scientist Prize.

    • CRESST II scientist Dr. Kenji Hamaguchi was lead author on a paper establishing that collision of strong stellar winds in the massive binary systems from eta Carina produce high-energy cosmic rays through Fermi acceleration at the shock interface. This is an example of a specific source producing cosmic rays. (See image and caption on CRESST II home page photo carousel).

    New Opportunities - Winter 2017-18

    There are two new position openings. Details are on the CRESST II website, and links are provided in the summaries below. As new openings arise, we will continue to post them on the Opportunities portion of the website, and also point to them in subsequent News posts.

    • Howard University, one of the CRESST II partner universities, is now advertising for a tenure track position in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. This position would involve teaching, research related to astronomy, astrophysics, and/or physics and also in helping to build positive research and education connections between Howard and NASA/GSFC.

    • Jeremy Perkins, in the Laboratory for Particle Astrophysics, is advertising for a CRESST II post doctoral position to work on BurstCube, a CubeSat to detect astrophysical counterparts to GW signals as well as other gamma-ray transients.

    Science Highlights - Fall 2017

    • Dr. Eleonora Troja led the discovery of X-ray emission from the gravitational-wave event GW170817. This is the first gravitational-wave event with an identified electromagnetic counterpart. Dr Troja was involved in extensive multiwavelength monitoring campaigns. The results were published in a Nature article: Troja, E. et al. Nature 551, 71–74 (2017). Dr. Troja was featured in an NSF Press Conference on October 16, 2017. Here is an image associated with the published article.

    • CRESST II scientist Dr. Wade Henning received major press recognition for his work on "An orbital dance may help preserve oceans on icy worlds." The paper argues that tidal interactions can provide heat input to support subsurface oceans on otherwise cold and inert icy objects in the trans-Neptunian region. Such interactions could extend the range of environments where life could develop and persist.

    Awards and Recognition - Fall 2017

    • Jacob Slutzky, as a member of the ST7 Operations Team, received a NASA Group Achievement award, "For the successful operations of the Space Technology 7 (ST7), meeting all mission success criteria." This is a part of the LISA Pathfinder, and he was also recognized for this success as part of the European Operations Team.

    Science Highlights - Summer 2017

    • Neutron Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) Launched on June 3 headed for Space Station

    • Dragon capsule "captured" June 5; NICER extraction scheduled for June 11 and power up for June 14

    • Cubesat UV Experiment (CUVE) selected for a Deep Space SmallSat study.

    • CUVE (PI Valeria Cottini) will study the Venus atmosphere at UV wavelengths to:

      1. Determine the nature of the "unknown" UV absorber

      2. Measure SO2 and SO distributions

      3. Study atmospheric dynamics

      4. Study nightglow emissions

    Awards and Recognition - Summer 2017

    • The CubeSat UV Experiment: "Unveil Venus' UV absorber with CubeSat UV Mapper Spectrometer (CUVE)" was selected for study by the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies Program. For this and related work, Dr. Valeria Cottini, the PI of CUVE, was the recipient of the UMD Astronomy Department Early Career Research Scientist Prize for Excellence.

    • Diana Cheatham: Successfully defended PhD. on Accreting Pulsars. Tested newly implemented models and provided the first direct connection between physical parameters of the accretion process in rotating neutron stars.

    Awards and Recognition - Spring 2017

    • Giuseppe Cataldo: Agency Honor Award "For exceptional insight and tireless efforts to bring advanced mathematical methods to the correlation of thermal models for the James Webb Space Telescope."

    • Thomas Barclay: NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal: "For effective and innovative leadership of the Kepler/K2 Guest Observer Program, which has opened the mission up from a search for new worlds to the study of stellar systems and galaxies."

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