Astrophysics Branch (Code SSA)


First Hayabusa samples transferred to NASA

Dr. Scott Sandford of NASA-ARC made a trip to Japan in December 2011 to join Japanese colleagues at the SPring-8 cyclotron facility in order to study some of the particles returned from asteroid Itokawa by the Hayabusa spacecraft. 

Ames scientist reviews a Giant Magellan Telescope Instrument

Dr. Tom Greene attended and chaired the conceptual design review (CoDR) of the near-infrared multi-object spectrograph (NIRMOS) for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) in Pasadena on October 6 and 7. Other review team members were from Caltech, Lick Observatory, NOAO, Swinburne University, and the University of Chicago. If built, this instrument would be the most capable near-infrared MOS on Earth and would rival the James Webb Space Telescope. Six GMT instruments have now passed through CoDR, and the GMT project will soon decide which ones will be funded for development.

Ames Roles on New Asteroid Mission

On May 25, NASA announced the selection of its third New Frontier planetary science mission.  The $800-million Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission will launch in 2016 and retrieve samples from the near-Earth asteroid 1999 RQ36 in the year 2020.  The samples will be returned to Earth in 2023 and provide samples of the primeval materials from which our Solar System formed.

SOFIA Flies First Teachers

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) reached a new milestone on the evening of May 26-27 when its flew its first teacher-educators aboard a science research flight.  The flight was part of an expanded series of “Basic Science” flights, conducting peer-reviewed research for the general astronomical community, that will continue through July.
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