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In this issue:
Funding Secured for ASTRO-H Satellite
Richter To Chair APS Energy Efficiency Study
LAT Meeting Starts with a Bang

SLAC Today

Wednesday - September 17, 2008

Funding Secured for ASTRO-H Satellite

An artist's drawing of the ASTRO-H satellite. (Image courtesy of JAXA/NEC. Click for larger image.)

Just three months after the successful launch of the SLAC-built Large Area Telescope, another space-based instrument is in the works. Thanks to recent funding and approvals from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA, a U.S. science instrument will be launched aboard the ASTRO-H satellite.

The observatory, which JAXA plans to launch in 2013, will include several components: a soft X-ray spectrometer, a soft X-ray imager, a soft gamma-ray detector and two hard X-ray imagers. Together, these instruments will look at celestial X-ray sources and the properties of their emission. With their superb sensitivity to hard X-rays and unrivaled energy resolution in soft X-rays, these instruments will explore the most energetic phenomena in the universe, involving particles at energies that can't be readily produced in the laboratory.

The Soft Gamma-ray Detector, which will observe the highest energy range of the ASTRO-H instruments, will be built under a collaboration between JAXA and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, under the guidance of SLAC physicist Hiroyasu Tajima. The SGD will provide the unprecedented and unique capability of measuring the polarization of celestial sources in soft gamma rays. "These polarization measurements will allow us to perform precise studies of the geometry of astrophysical sources," said Tajima.  Read more...

APS Energy Efficiency Study Released

(Image - APS report cover)

Eliminating wasted energy from automobiles, homes and businesses is equivalent to tapping a hidden energy reserve that will help the United States improve its energy security and reduce global warming, an American Physical Society study panel concluded in a major report released yesterday.

The report, Energy Future: Think Efficiency, reaches three overarching conclusions:

• Improving energy efficiency is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to significantly reduce the nation’s demand for imported oil and its greenhouse gas emissions without causing any loss of comfort or convenience.

• Numerous technologies exist today to increase the efficiency of U.S. vehicles and buildings in ways that could save individual consumers money. But without federal policies to overcome market barriers, the U.S. is unlikely to capitalize on these technologies.

• Far greater increases in energy efficiency are available in the future, but realizing these potential gains will require a larger and better focused federal research and development program on energy efficiency than exists today.

Read the full story from the APS here.

LAT Meeting Starts
with a Bang

LAT collaborators take a break from afternoon sessions in the Panofsky Auditorium breezeway. (Click for larger image.)

The first post-launch meeting of the science collaboration for the Large Area Telescope—one of two key instruments on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope—is underway this week in Panofsky Auditorium. The LAT meeting drew scientists from as far away as Italy and Japan.

"Almost two-hundred people registered, which makes it the biggest LAT meeting ever," said Kavli Institute scientist and LAT Instrument Science Operations Center Manager Rob Cameron. "It shows the enthusiasm by members of the collaboration for using LAT data now that the observatory is launched and operating successfully in orbit."

As though to launch the week's proceedings, the LAT logged a powerful gamma burst early this week. LAT scientists prepared and released the first LAT Gamma-ray Burst Circular announcement during the meeting.

The five-day meeting includes plenary sessions and several smaller break-out group meetings. For new collaboration members, especially graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, project scientist Steve Ritz and LAT principal investigator Peter Michelson held a special Tuesday afternoon session to discuss project participation.

"We're here to talk about the performance of the LAT, operations issues, how we're doing with data processing, but we’re mostly discussing and preparing for the science we're starting to see from the gamma-ray sky," Cameron said. The LAT is operating beautifully, and the first scientific paper from its data has already been submitted for publication. "We're off to a really roaring start."

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