John A. Nousek
Senior Scientist and Professor
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Penn State University
Ph.D. in Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978
Mailing Address: 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-1937
FAX: (814) 863-3399
Office Hours: Advisees and other students should call or email
to set up an appointment.
X-ray astronomy hardware and software, electronic publishing and databases,
unusual soft X-ray sources, statistical problems in astronomy, diffuse X-ray
John Nousek is a central member of the Penn State High Energy
Astrophysics Group. The philosophy of the group is to maintain
an active and vital program of instrument development and astronomical
research within the setting of an educational institution.
We seek to build detectors and experiments which open new windows
of discovery space onto the Universe, and to involve students
through the process of building, testing and use of these instruments
to allow them the opportunity to learn the entirety of the challenge
of state-of-the-art research, training them to fully appreciate the
challenges of space instrumentation. Click
for more information about the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department
as a whole.
John Nousek is the PSU Lead Co-Investigator for the ACIS experiment.
ACIS is the primary focal plane imaging detector on
the premier X-ray astronomy satellite of the next decade.
Scheduled for launch in 1999, Chandra will offer the highest
resolution X-ray images of objects in the sky likely to be seen
in our lifetimes. The ACIS experiment offers simultaneous imaging
and non-dispersive spectroscopy due to the usage of CCDs as single
X-ray photon detectors.
Penn State responsibilities for ACIS include being the home institution
for the Instrument Principal Investigator, Dr. Gordon Garmire;
developing the ACIS ground software, under Dr. John Nousek; and
measurement of the flight optical blocking filters, under Drs.
Leisa Townsley and George Chartas.
Other collaborators on ACIS include the Massachusetts Institute of
Center for Space Research , MIT's Lincoln Labs, CalTech,
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Carneige Mellon University.
Astro-E is a joint Japan-U.S. X-ray astronomy satellite, planned for
launch by a Japanese M5 booster in February, 2000.
Yoshi Ogawara and Hajime Inoue of ISAS are the Japanese team leaders.
Steve Holt of
Goddard Space Flight Center is the NASA Project Scientist; Alan
Bunner of NASA Headquarters is the NASA Program Scientist.
The project scientific direction is given by a Science Working Group
consisting of the preceding four people and nine international
Science Advisors, including John Nousek of Penn State.
of the payload are:
- The X-Ray Spectrometer, an array of X-ray microcalorimeters
which provide non-dispersive X-ray spectral resolution of 10-20 eV.
This instrument was originally developed for the U.S. Chandra (AXAF) program,
but was transferred to Astro-E when the AXAF-S spacecraft was cancelled.
The XRS will be built by the Goddard Space Flight Center and the University
- The X-ray Imaging Spectrometer, four independent CCD camera/telescope
units similar to the ASCA SIS and Chandra ACIS experiments. The cameras
will be built by a consortium headed by Kyoto University and Osaka University,
using CCDs developed at MIT and Lincoln Labs. The telescopes will be
built at Goddard Space Flight Center.
- The Hard X-ray Detector, a hard X-ray imaging scintillation telescope.
The HXD will be built by the University of Tokyo and ISAS.
Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer:
The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer has a complement of three
coaligned instruments: the XRT,
UVOT, and the
The XRT and UVOT are X-ray and UV/optical telescopes, respectively,
which produce precise positions for gamma-ray burst counterparts,
only seconds after the bursts are detected by the BAT gamma ray
Penn State's participation in the Swift mission includes responsibility
for delivery of the XRT (building the X-ray camera, and incorporating
the CCD electronics from Leicester University and the X-ray telescope
mirrors from the Observatorio Astronomico di Brera),
responsibility for the UVOT (providing the Digital Processing Unit,
and integration with the Mullard Space Sciences Lab built
telescope and detector units), operation of the satellite
from the Penn State Mission Operations Center (MOC), and
leading the Education and Outreach effort.
John Nousek is the Principal Investigator for the Penn State
activities related to Swift.
Swift's current status is that it has been selected for a
September, 2003 launch by NASA's Office of Space Science.
The mission is going through the Confirmation Review process,
leading to NASA approval to proceed to final design. Two
Preliminary Design Reviews were held at Penn State in August, 2000,
one for the XRT and one for the UVOT.
The next Swift Science Team meeting will be held at Penn State
in December, 2000. The following major milestones are the
Critical Design Reviews, held in the spring and early summer of
2001. Following the CDR fabrication of the spacecraft and instruments
will begin, leading to a May, 2002 delivery.
John Nousek was elected to membership on the AAS Publications
Board in 1993. His term of membership expired in December, 1997.
He was nominated for chair of the Pub Board in 1996 and 1999.
National Committee Membership:
John Nousek serves as the chair of the
User's Group for the High Energy Astrophysics
Science Archival Research Center (HEASARC) at the Goddard Space
Flight Center. Minutes
of the last meeting of the User's Group are available.
Technology Working Group:
The Technology Working Group has been created under the leadership
of Dr. Jonathon Ormes of GSFC, and Dr. Stephen Kahn of Columbia
University, to provide long range planning and advice to Dr. Alan
Bunner, NASA HQ director of the Structure and Evolution of the Universe
theme. The Working Group will identify the technologies needed to
enable the critical discoveries about the physical nature of the Universe
and how it evolved. The goal of the TWG is to lay out a roadmap of
technological objectives which will enable accomplishment of the
scientific priorities set by the SEUS (Structure and Evolution of
the Universe Subcommittee) on a time scale of the next 10-20 years.
John Nousek served on the TWG, and participated in the meetings
of the group, culminating in the Technology Roadmap, published
in April, 1997.
Constellation-X Facility Steering Group:
Constellation-X is a NASA mission aimed at a new start in 2004.
This mission will consist of a fleet of six satellites dedicated to
collecting high numbers of X-ray photons from targets, which will
enable the first truly high spectral resolution X-ray spectroscopy
of astrophysical targets with high throughput.
John Nousek is serving on the Facility Steering Group which is
planning the basic elements of the mission and technology development.
Penn State is working with the Reflection Grating-CCD technology
development team for Constellation-X, under the leadership of
Prof. Steve Kahn of Columbia University.
The Roentgen Satellit (ROSAT) was launched in 1990. It conducted the
best survey of the low-energy X-ray sky presently available. Since
then ROSAT has conducted pointed observations. John Nousek serves
on the User Committee for the U.S. portion of this satellite.
SSDOO Steering Committee:
The SSDOO is an umbrella organization at Goddard Space Flight Center
under the leadership of Dr. James Green. SSDOO includes the
National Space Science Data Center
the Astrophysics Data Center (which processes U.S. ROSAT and ASCA data
products), the Space Physics Data Center, the FITS standards office, and
many other data and archive related functions.
John Nousek is a member of the steering committee, representing
the Astrophysics community.
If you have any concerns about the NSSDC or any other SSDOO activities
which you wish
to bring up, please send email to
AIP Subcommittee on Classification:
John Nousek serves as the astrophysics representative on the
American Institute of Physics subcommittee on classification.
This subcommittee maintains the system of classification of articles
known as PACS, which is used to assign categories and keywords
to all publications of the AIP.
Here is a list of both refereed and unrefereed publications
of John Nousek since 1985.
Married, with three children.
Last updated August 3, 1999
Web page by John Nousek (
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Penn State University