News


2020 Undergraduate Interaction Day

CRESST II will be hosting a virtual Undergrad Interaction Day on Friday, November 13th along with NASA scientists within the Sciences and Exploration Directorate at Goddard Space Flight Center. Students from eighteen CRESST II-affiliated universities will be invited to attend the event which will include overview presentations from NASA leadership about the work happening in the Directorate as well as project-specific presentations from 16 scientists in the NASA/GSFC Astrophysics Science and Solar System Exploration Divisions. This event will allow students to learn more about the research happening at NASA and talk directly to NASA scientists about their work, career path, and education. We look forward to having a great event.


2020 Agency Honor Awards

Congratulations to Katja Pottschmidt for receving Exceptional Public Achievement Medal (EPAM) and to Francis Reddy for receiving Exceptional Public Service Medal (EPSM).


CRESST II PY3 Highlights

  • The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched April 18, 2018 and will be two years old on April 18, 2020. TESS has been extremely successful, discovering over 1,800 candidate exoplanets and counting. The mission has been renewed for an additional two years until September 2022. CRESST II scientist Dr. Thomas Barclay is leading the TESS Science Support Center at GSFC. The Science Support Center is the community’s interface to the TESS data and science. Dr. Barclay won an Astrophysics Scient Division Peer Award for his leadership of the TESS Center.


  • The joint NASA and JAXA X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) is developing rapidly with a target launch date of 2021. CRESST II scientist Dr. Yang Soong played a major role in the construction, delivery, and testing of the collector mirrors for XRISM. There are unique, high-precision x-ray mirrors that collect and focus x-rays for delivery to the instruments. The mirrors are now in final testing for integration into the overall system.


  • The Neutron Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) instrument was installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in June 2017. It has been observing x-ray light curves of neutron stars for nearly three years to learn the size and structure of neutron stars. Recently, NICER produced the first ever surface map of a pulsar (a rotating neutron star). The NICER team was awarded the ISS Compelling Results Award by the American Astronautical Society for their creative and remarkable research results. The NICER team also received the GSFC Team Award for their scientific accomplishments. The recognized members of the NICER team include CRESST II scientists Drs. Steve Sturner, Elizabeth Ferrara, Michael Corcoran, Kenji Hamaguchi, Mike Loewenstein, Katja Pottschmidt, and Petrus Bult.


  • CRESST II member Ms. Jeanette Alexandra Kazmierczak won an Astrophysics Science Division Peer Award for constantly seeking new projects and challenges as the junior science write on the Goddard Astrophysics Communications Team. Ms. Kazmierczak, as well as CRESST II members Dr. Barbara Mattson, Ms. Sara Mitchell, Ms. Sarah Eyermann and Mr. Francis Reddy, were also highlighted at SFDC for their supermassive black hole animation which attracted over 2.3 million views and 475,000 likes on Instagram. This was a component of a very successful “Black Hole Week” the group led as a NASA agency-wide effort.



CRESST II Retreat Highlights - November 2019

    The 2019 CRESST II Retreat was held on Friday, November 22 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). CRESST II scientists gathered for an all-day event that began with a keynote presentation from the Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, Jonathan Gardner. The day was filled with other talks from CRESST II scientists on topics ranging from the stellar flare views from NICER, results from CALET currently on the International Space Station, and high energy emissions from gamma-ray bursts. During breaks in the day, twenty CRESST II scientists presented two-minute poster summaries to their peers. These short presentations helped give a broader view of the work happening within the CRESST II Program at NASA/GSFC and helped spark possible collaborations between scientists. Thank you to all who participated, and we look forward to the next Retreat in 2020.

    Marc Neveu presenting his poster on the geophysical and geochemical controls on abiotic carbon cycling on Earth-like planets.

    Jonathan Gardner discussing the status of the James Webb Space Telescope launch.

    Mehdi Benna describing the discovery of water releases at the moon by meteoroid impacts.

    Chris Shrader pointing to his poster which details the low-luminosity core dominated radio galaxies and the extragalactic gamma-ray background.

    Yasmina Martos-Martin speaks about Jupiter’s magnetic field and source location of decameter radiation observed by Juno.



Awards and Recognitions - Summer 2019

  • Congratulations to Dr. Mike Lowenstein and Dr. Yang Soong for receiving 2019 NASA Agency Honor Award - Group Achievement, for the NICER Instrument Development Team. Group achievement award is given to individuals for an outstanding group accomplishment that has contributed substantially to NASA's mission.


  • Congratulations to Dr. Jacob Richardson for receiving Solar System Exploration Division 2019 Peer Award, for the scientific connections he enables across the Division, the reliability he brings to his team while in the filed, and his exceptional ability to engage with the public at outreach events.


  • Congratulations to Ms. Jeanette Kazmierczak for receiving Astrophysics Science Division 2019 Peer Award, for constantly seeking new projects and challenges as the junior science writer for the Goddard Astrophysics Communications team.


  • Congratulations to Dr. Thomas Barclay for receiving Astrophysics Science Division 2019 Peer Award, for supporting TESS and WFIRST missions on behalf of the Agency at the 2019 American Astrophysical Society meeting.



Science Highlights - Winter 2018-2019

  • Congratulations to Dr. Jordan Kendall! He attended the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) in November 2018. At the LEAG meeting, Dr. Kendall received the Dr. Bernard Ray Hawke Next Lunar Generation Career Development Award.

  • The CRESST II ASD communication team (Dr. Jeanette Kazmierczak, Dr. Barbara Mattson, Dr. Sarah Eyermann, Dr. Sara Mitchell and Mr. Francis Reddy ) provided a NASA Instagram posting showing a supermassive black hole visualization. The animation had over 2.3 million views, 475,000 likes, and 4,000 comments.



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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