The business meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on January 14,
1997, at the Toronto AAS meeting.
Lynn Cominsky reviewed her activities as HEAD press officer. Successful press
conferences were held in conjunction with the San Diego HEAD meeting to highlight results
on gamma-ray blazars and fast X-ray oscillations. There was coverage by the LA Times (K.C.
Cole), the London Times (Nigel Hawkes), an Amsterdam newspaper, and in addition, releases
went out over the AP wire service and were carried in other newspapers across the country.
Magazine articles appeared in Science, the New Scientist, and Sky and Telescope. Charles
Osgood made a radio presentation on RXTE results in the program "The Osgood
Files". A similar effort will be made to get the news out at the Estes Park HEAD
meeting next November.
Kevin Hurley presented the HEAD Secretary-Treasurer's report. HEAD membership now
stands at 656, and we are the second largest AAS division. The balances of the two HEAD
bank accounts are approximately $4600 at Berkeley, and $16000 at the AAS. The results of
the 1996 HEAD Executive Committee elections were announced. A. Marscher was elected
Secretary-Treasurer, replacing K. Hurley, and J. Bechtold, D. McCammon, and N. white will
replace outgoing Executive Committee members L. Cominsky, C. Dermer, and C. Kouveliotou.
K. Hurley reported on the recent launch failures which affected the Mars '96, HETE, and
- SAC-B missions. Studies are being conducted to determine whether HETE can be rebuilt and
reflown within the next 28 months.
Neil Gehrels reminded members that the next HEAD divisional meeting would take place at
Estes Park, Colorado, in the Stanley Hotel, November 3-8, 1997. He also announced the
winner of the 1997 Rossi Prize: Trevor Weekes. The prize was awarded for his key role in
the development of very high energy gamma-ray astronomy, and the discovery of TeV
gamma-radiation from the Crab Nebula and Markarian 421.
Alan Bunner announced that Rick Harnden would be replaced at NASA Headquarters by Paul
Hertz, and thanked Rick for his work over the past years. He described the strategic
planning activities at Headquarters. Two "road maps" are being drawn up: one for
the near term (new starts in 2000 - 2004), and one for longer, 20 - 25 year timescales. He
pointed out that in 1994, the OSS strategic plan was basically a continuation of the 1991
plan. This year we have SIRTF and SOFIA new starts, and therefore new scientific goals
were considered from the ground up. In May 1997, all the space science inputs will be
merged into a new plan with a 20 year vision and a 5 year strategic plan. The near-term
goals will probably be achieved, while the far term goals will be revisited every 3 years.
Surveys, NAS studies, subcommittee recommendations, as well as importance to the public,
will all be considered in formulating this plan. He pointed out that "origins"
and life on other planets were very important NASA themes now, which represent a rising
tide at NASA Headquarters from which we can all benefit. Regarding the possible reflight
of HETE, he explained that some, but not all of the money required, has been identified.
That is why study and re-evaluation of this project must be carried out. In particular,
the recommendations from three committees will be considered: the Gamma-Ray Astronomy
Program Working Group, the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee, and the
Space Sciences Advisory Committee. He also mentioned that for the first time, plans for
long duration (100 day) balloon flights were advancing, thanks to some money left over in
the balloon budget, and some promising new balloon materials which are under development.
He discussed the SMEX program, and said that the AO should be issued within about a month.
For the first time, the AO would include "missions of opportunity" -
collaborations with other space agencies, involving instruments on other spacecraft. Also,
there will be the option to fly small payloads as Spartans (shuttle free-flyers). Finally,
he exhorted everyone involved in analyzing data to better publicize their results. Every
attempt should be made to tell our story to the public. The degree to which we prosper in
the federal budget is linearly dependent on the degree to which we inform the public and
the politicians about our achievements. The following is a list of Web sites where more
information can be found about NASA and NASA missions.
NASA's OSS Home Page:
SEUS Information Page (caltech):
Structure and Evolution of the Universe (home page at NASA HQ):
NASA Missions in Development:
Missions and Mission Concepts (Caltech):
SEU Mission Concept Studies (Caltech):
NASA OSS Advanced Technology & Mission Studies:
Miscellaneous SEU Theme Charts and Viewgraphs from GSFC SEU Team:
Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope Mission:
High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy Mission
Belinda Wilkes presented an AXAF update. The AO should be out in September 1997, with
proposals due in February 1998. Launch is scheduled for September 1998. The AXAF
Operations Control Center will be located in Cambridge MA, close to MIT. The time
available to guest observers increases to 100% after about 2 years of mission. She
presented some of the key elements of the mission and its instrumentation: a 63.4 hour
orbit, with 70-80% of the sky observable at any time, 0.5 arcsecond spatial resolution, a
32 x 32 arcminute field of view, and a 0.1 - 10 keV energy range. Data analysis tools can
be run under any software interface, such as IDL, FTOOLS, and IRAF. A Web site exists
where more information can be found: