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In this issue:
NASA Restarts Telescope Mission to Detect Black Holes
Safety Today: A Hot Topic
Hugh Harris and Jessica Vey Receive SSRL Awards
Word of the Week: Klystron

SLAC Today

Tuesday - October 2, 2007

NASA Restarts Telescope Mission to Detect Black Holes

NuSTAR (left) will provide images of the sky in the band encompassing 10-80 keV (simulated observations at bottom) more than 500 times more sensitive than previous observations (top image).

NASA has decided to restart an astronomy mission that will have greater capability than any existing instrument for detecting black holes in the local universe.

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is a telescope capable of imaging celestial X-rays in the range of 10 - 80 keV, known as the "hard" X-ray band. Data from NuSTAR will expand our understanding of the origins and destinies of stars and galaxies. NASA had stopped the study effort on the NuSTAR mission in 2006 due to funding pressures within the Science Mission Directorate.

"We are very excited to be able restart the NuSTAR mission," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "NuSTAR has more than 500 times the sensitivity of previous instruments that detect black holes. It's a great opportunity for us to explore an important astronomical frontier. We are getting more and more from the science budget we have, and the restart of the highly-valued NuSTAR mission is an example of that."

SLAC's main role in NuSTAR is scientific guidance and collaboration on the interpretation and analysis of data, but is likely to involve instrument calibration. "Those of us working on this project had not lost hope for this really wonderful mission," said Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) researcher Greg Madejski, a NuSTAR co-investigator who has been working on the mission since its infancy stages. "Due to the merits of this mission, it is back up and running."  Read more...

(Column - Safety Today)

A Hot Topic

Even though cooler weather is quickly approaching, a few very warm days still remain ahead. Keeping cool while working in the heat requires taking special precaution to prevent heat stress illness. Heat stroke is the most serious stage of overheating and can be deadly—please don't hesitate to call 9-911 if you or someone you know might be experiencing a heat stroke.

Risk factors for heat stress illness include elevated air temperature or humidity; exposure to the sun or other sources of radiant heat; conductive heat sources; intensity of work; and amount of both general and protective clothing. Be vigilant in extreme or unusual temperatures, working inside buildings, vaults, tunnels, or other areas that contain heat sources or have restricted airflow.

At temperatures of only 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and more than 50% relative humidity, there is some risk of heat illness; that risk increases as both the temperature and humidity increase.

The following steps can help lower the risk of heat stress illness:

- Drink plenty of water—if you're
  working in the heat, that's a
  minimum of four 8-ounce glasses
  per hour, including at
  the start of the work day.
- Take rest breaks and seek relief
  from the heat in a cool or
  shaded area.
- Wear layers of clothing that can
  be removed as needed.
- Recognize the symptoms of heat
  stress illness and seek
  immediate medical attention
  when it is suspected.

A quick reference card is available on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website.

Be Cool! Be Safe!

Word of the Week:

A klystron is a device used by physicists to generate high-power microwaves that can be used to accelerate particles. Cousins to the magnetrons that generate the heating power of a microwave oven, klystrons are essentially inverse accelerators that convert the energy from a beam of electrons into electromagnetic energy. SLAC's linac comprises 242 klystrons, and each one generates a peak power over 60,000 times that of a typical microwave oven.

Hugh Harris and
Jessica Vey Receive SSRL Awards

(Photo - SSRL Awards)
From left: SSRL Director Jo Stohr, Hugh Harris, Jessica Vey, and award presenter Christopher Kim. (Click image for larger version.)

Congratulations to Jessica Vey and Hugh Harris, 2007 recipients of the Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award and the William E. Spicer Young Investigator Award, respectively. The Klein and Spicer awards were presented during Monday's session of the joint Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) / Linac Coherent Light Source Users' Meeting.

Vey, a graduate student in Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), solved the crystal structure of an amino acid, cysteine desulfurase, from the bacteria Synechocystis, which prevents toxins from building up during anaerobic conditions.

Harris, a lecturer at the University of Adelaide, conducts research on individual mammalian cells exposed to drugs, carcinogens, toxins and physiological stimuli, as well as structural determinations of metals in proteins, model complexes, cells and tissues. Harris has published two papers in Science on the determination of the chemical form of mercury in fish.

The Spicer award honors one of the founders of SSRL by recognizing a young scientist whose research has benefited from or contributed to SSRL or the light source community as a whole. The Klein Award honors a graduate or undergraduate student for outstanding research using SSRL facilities. Both awards include a $1,000 stipend for recipeints to present their work at a scientific conference.

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