HaloSat Team

  • Philip Kaaret - Principal Investigator - University of Iowa

    I am a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I have been building X-ray instrumentation for satellites since 1989 when I joined the Stellar X-Ray Polarimeter (SXRP) project on which I later served as Project Scientist and then Principal Investigator. I also do observations of accreting black holes with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and of pulsar wind nebulae and supernova remnants with the VERITAS gamma-ray observatory. I am very excited to lead the HaloSat mission.

  • Thomas Johnson - Project Manager

    I am the SmallSat program manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and am located at the Wallops Flight Facility. I have an extensive background in Instrument and Spacecraft project management, design, integration, environmental testing, and launch site operations. I have served as the Project Manager for numerous flight instruments that span the Electromagnetic Spectrum and include Near and Mid Infrared, X-Ray, Gamma Ray, and Mass Spectrometer instruments. I have supported numerous Earth and Space Science missions including JWST, MOMA, Fermi, ICESAT, TRMM, XTE, HST Repair Missions, SAMPEX, EUVE, UARS, BBXRT, and COBE. In these positions I have partnered with International Agencies and Industry, Academia, Government Agencies, and most importantly maintained hands-on experience developing and delivering space flight hardware.

  • Luis Santos - Mission Systems Engineer

    I am a systems engineer from the Mission Systems Engineering Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I have worked as a Mission Systems Engineer for multiple CubeSat/SmallSat projects such as Dellingr and petitSat, in addition to HaloSat. My primary background is mechanical engineering in design, analysis, build and test of structures and mechanisms for space flight.

  • William Robison - Consulting Engineer

    I started 'life' working on a Univac 18 bit machine at the Physics department here in Iowa City. My principal interest is flight software having developed the software systems for our Cassini/RPWS, Juno/WAVES, FLEXI-I, and HERCI instruments. For HaloSat I also am providing support for circuit design and implementation.

  • Donald Kirchner - Instrument Principal Engineer

    I possess over 30 years of experience in the design, development, and construction of high reliability instrument systems for scientific spaceflight applications. I performed a key engineering role in the development of numerous spacecraft-based wave experiments, including instruments for the Voyager, Galileo, ISEE, DE, CRRES, Geotail, Polar, and Cluster missions. I was the principal engineer for the design and fabrication of the Cassini RPWS experiment, the Mars Express MARSIS radar transmitter and antenna subsystems, and the Juno Waves instrument. I am the lead engineer of the JUICE-RIME and Europa REASON transmitters. I am involved in developing wideband, radiation tolerant radar transmitters for planetary applications, and testing instruments in Arctic and Antarctic regions. Recipient of the 2009 NASA Board Award in recognition of his Mars Express MARSIS Sounder Instrument contribution to the National Space Program, and to the mission of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

  • Anna Zajczyk - Postdoc

    I am a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa. My research experience spans variety of topics, including pulsar phenomenon (in particular gamma-ray emission of millisecond pulsars and globular clusters), evolution and structure of pulsar wind nebulae and supernova remnants, symbiotic stars and recurrent novae, and observational astronomy (from IR/optical to gamma-rays). In the past few years I was involved and became experienced in fabrication, characterization and optimization of pixelated CdZnTe/CdTe semiconductor detectors for application in X-ray astronomy. I was a member of the X-Calibur science team (X-Calibur is a balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimeter). As a member of the PolSTAR (Polarization Spectroscopic Telescope Array; space-borne broad-band X-ray polarimetry mission) science team I conducted a case study of potential astrophysical targets, and tested and characterized a prototype of the X-ray scattering polarimeter. In the HaloSat project I will contribute to development, testing and calibration of X-ray detectors and ancillary instrumentation, to preparation of software for mission planning and operations, and to preparation of data reduction and analysis software.

  • Daniel LaRocca - Graduate Student

    I am a graduate student at the University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy. My interest is largely in instrumentation and hardware for space based missions. During my undergraduate education at Illinois Wesleyan University, my research related to the Jovian Trojan asteroids and rotation periods using optical observations. At the University of Iowa, I have largely focused on HaloSat. Mine has been a hands-on role in constructing and assembling the pre-engineering, engineering, and flight hardware in development of HaloSat. I will continue to work on observation software, various mission operations, and data reduction.

  • Will Fuelberth - Undergraduate

    I am a senior at the University of Iowa currently triple-majoring in Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics. I am involved in the Hawkeye Marching Band, University Choir, Iowa Basketball Pep Band, and the campus ministry 24:7 at the university. I am currently working on the scintillator and anti-coincidence portion of the x-ray detector.

  • Hannah Gulick - Undergraduate

    I am a senior at the University of Iowa, triple-majoring in astronomy, physics, and English Creative Writing. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and continue astronomical research at the professional level. I am involved with university Honors, Society of Physics Students, Radio Club, Astronomy Club, and Poetry Club. I also participate in outreach work for the Van Allen Observatory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Women in STEM.

    My contributions to HaloSat include: assisting in assembly of flight hardware and ground support equipment, thermal and vacuum testing of the engineering and flight models, functionality testing of the circuit boards, assembly of a cooling system for thermal-vacuum testing, data analysis of flight model performance in lab, and data analysis code production and manipulation.

  • Michael Matthews - Systems/Flight Software

    I am a computer engineer from the Wallops Systems Software Engineering Branch at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility. My career started as an electrical systems engineer for several NASA sounding rocket missions supporting both science and technology demonstrations. My experience over the years has broadened to include software and systems, and my work has included software support for airborne and oceanographic science missions, and systems engineering for launch range programs. I also provide support for SmallSat proposal efforts in the area of C&DH systems. I am providing systems and software engineering support for HaloSat.

  • Keith Jahoda - Co-Investigator

    I am a HaloSat Co-Investigator, with responsibilities to help with the requirements, observation planning, and analysis. HaloSat does not have a formal Project Scientist (someone who represents NASA to the Project, and vice versa), but if we did, I might well be that person

    My thesis research was related to the location and origin of the very soft X-ray background (less than 0.28 keV, often called the C-band); for a number of years after that, I studied the 2-20 keV X-ray background using archival data from the HEAO-1A2 satellite. I worked on the development and led calibration of the Proportional Counter Array experiment on the Rossi Timing Explorer. At the time of HaloSat's operational phase, I am also involved in developing instruments and missions sensitive to X-ray polarization, but it is a great pleasure to return to studying the Diffuse X-ray Background.

  • K.D. Kuntz - Science Team

    I am currently a Principal Research Scientist at the Henry A. Rowland department of physics and astronomy of the Johns Hopkins University. My dissertation used ROSAT and studied the diffuse soft X-ray background, the extent to which it could be divided into cosmic (extra-galactic), Galactic halo, and local emission components, and the spectra of those components. Galactic cartography in the X-ray became more difficult in the XMM/Chandra era, but I persisted until it became apparent that solar wind charge exchange (SWCX) was a significant issue. I then attempted to characterize the SWCX so that I could remove it from my observations. Simultaneously, a group of heliophysicists at GSFC became interested in using SWCX emission from the near Earth environment to study the Earth's magnetosheath. For them, the cosmic and Galactic components are unfortunate backgrounds. Since then I have been involved in both sides of the issue, dealing with the SWCX as both the signal and as a pesky foreground. I also attempt to study the diffuse X-ray emitting interstellar medium in other galaxies. And in my spare time, I also study the history of science.

  • Rebecca Ringuette - Postdoc

    I am a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa. In my graduate research at Louisiana State University, I built, deployed, and maintained a rooftop array of NaI detectors to measure gamma-ray bursts (~2 ms) from Louisiana thunderstorms. I also wrote and automated IDL software to analyze the data from the array. The project resulted in a publication in JGR:Space Physics. As a part of the HaloSat project, I will contribute to the development of the analysis and data reduction software using Python, Xspec, and PyXspec

  • Emily Silich - Undergraduate

    I am a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in astronomy, physics, and mathematics. On campus, I am involved in the Society of Physics Students, University Honors, UI Pep Band, and I assist with public outreach for the Van Allen Observatory. My contributions to the HaloSat project include performing pre-flight data analysis of the flight model performance tests, leading an investigation into the X-ray spectra of the Vela and Puppis A Supernova Remnants, and I am currently investigating an X-ray anomaly at 3.5 keV which has been controversially attributed to dark matter.

  • Jesse Bluem - Graduate Student

    I am a graduate student at the University of Iowa. I am responsible for the HaloSat data pipeline at Iowa, taking on the responsibilities of software engineering and database administration. I am also working on a spectral modeling project of the Cygnus Superbubble using HaloSat. Upon conclusion of that project, I will begin working on analysis of the Milky Way halo using HaloSat data.

  • Dimitra Koutroumpa - Science Team

    I am a Research Associate with the French National Center for Research (CNRS), working at the LATMOS institute near Paris. My thesis research concentrated on the physical interaction between plasmas and neutrals, and in particular charge exchange reactions and diffuse UV/X-ray emissions in the solar system (heliosphere, planetary exospheres) and the interstellar medium. In this framework, I am studying the interstellar neutral populations penetrating the heliosphere, their interaction with the solar wind and their modulation following the solar cycle activity, via data analysis of their backscattered resonance lines (SOHO/SWAN, BepiColombo/PHEBUS) and comparison with in-situ measurements (Ulysses, Wind, ACE). I have developed a comprehensive model of the charge-exchange induced X-ray emission (SWCX) in the heliosphere, that I have used to estimate the contribution of solar system SWCX to diffuse X-ray observations from several missions (ROSAT, DXL, XMM-Newton, Chandra, Suzaku etc.). My involvement with HaloSat is inscribed in the continuation of these projects, in order to separate the SWCX contribution from the galactic halo diffuse emission, as well as constrain the SWCX models through strategically planned HaloSat observations.

  • Tyler Roth - Undergraduate

    I am a senior at the University of Iowa double majoring in physics and astronomy with a minor in math. I'm involved with the Society of Physics students and departmental outreach events. My contributions to Halosat include managing and updating this website.

  • Former Team Members

  • Ross McCurdy - Undergraduate

  • Calvin Whitaker - Undergraduate

    My contributions to HaloSat included managing the HaloSat FTP server, as well as creating this website.

  • Jesse Haworth - Undergraduate

  • Riley Wearmouth - Undergraduatee

  • Drew Miles - Instrument Scientist

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