Astrophysics Branch (Code SSA)


Acting Branch Chief: Mark Fonda

Assistant Chief: Christine Martinez

Branch Office: 650.604.5528

Observations, Instrument Development, and Experiments

We perform observations from ground-based and space-born telescopes to better understand the origin of stars and planetary systems and support space missions. We had more successful Spitzer space telescope proposals than any other organization, we have performed observations from the Hubble space telescope and space mission spectrometers such as Cassini VIMS, and our scientists are so well respected that they chair and sit on observatory time allocation committees.

The SOFIA water vapor monitor

We develop instruments and detectors to improve the capabilities of ground based and airborn telescopes. This is possible thanks to our scientists expertise in IR observations and our highly specialized instrument development shop tailored to producing scientific equipment and rapid prototyping which has produced flight hardware for airborne and space use. The team of technicians has extensive expertise with high vacuum systems, cryogenics, and optics. But that’s not all…

Lab Facilities

Instrumentation for transmission and reflection spectroscopy from the Vacuum UV through the Far IR.

Ice Spectroscopy and photo-chemistry:

Facilities include High-vacuum cryogenic equipment to simulate space ices, from interstellar grains at 10 K to icy surfaces of planets, comets, and satellites in the outer Solar System.

Alexandrite, Nd/YAG, and dye lasers and associated optical instrumentation for the vaporization, and photo-luminescence, and spectroscopic analysis of materials.

Chromatography for the analysis of organic molecules from meteorites and simulation experiments.

Gas-phase spectroscopy: A Pulsed slit discharge nozzle that produces ultracold, very low density gas and plasmas combined with a high sensitivity cavity ringdown spectrometer.











Code SSA Highlights

Tom Roellig and Tom Greene meet with JWST Near-InfraRed Camera team

Tom Roellig and Tom Greene attended a meeting of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Near-InfraRed Camera (NIRCam) science team in Palo Alto, CA on December 14 and 15. NIRCam is gearing up for testing its engineering unit in Palo Alto. Both are also working on defining NIRCam guaranteed time observations of extragalactic objects, young […]

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Farid Salama on Laboratory Astrophysics

As chair of the AAS Working Group on Laboratory Astrophysics (WGLA), Farid Salama (SSA), has co-authored and coordinated five distinct white papers for the National Academies ASTRO2010 decadal survey. A white paper centered on laboratory astrophysics was submitted by the WGLA to each of the five Science Frontiers Panels in the ASAC Subcommittee on Science. […]

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The importance of Keck to NASA

Tom Greene attended a meeting of the Keck Observatory Science Steering Committee (SSC) in Waimea, HI on February 18 and 19. He and Rachel Akeson, the other NASA Keck SSC representative, are drafting a white paper for the Astro2010 Decadal Survey on “The importance of Keck to NASA.” Tom Greene also completed the science requirements […]

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Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Laboratory Tour

On Friday, March 27, 2009, Dr. Andrew Mattioda conducted a tour of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Laboratory for Professor Edmund Wilson, Harding University, Searcy, AR, and two undergraduate students. Dr. Wilson is a member of the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, a NASA EPSCoR program. The students were given a presentation of the abundance of organic […]

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The impact and Recovery of Asteroid 2008 TC3

Scientists from NASA-Ames’ Astrochemistry Laboratory, Scott Sandford, Stefanie Milam, and Michel Nuevo, were coauthors on a paper entitled “The impact and recovery of asteroid 2008 TC3” that appeared in the 26 March 2009 issue of Nature. The paper’s authors describe the discovery of a small asteroid, 2008 TC3, on 6 October 2008, the subsequent collision […]

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Farid Salama Invited to Serve at ASOS Meeting

Farid Salama (SSA) was invited to serve on the Science Organizing Committee (SOC) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the 10th International Colloquium on Atomic Spectra and Oscillator Strengths (ASOS) for Astrophysical and Laboratory Plasmas to be held in Berkeley in August 2010. The ASOS meeting has been held once every three years since […]

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