Other activities at GGAO

At GGAO, the NASA GSFC Astrophysics Science Division (Code 660) X-Ray Interferometry Testbed is located at GGAO and is a 600-meter-long vacuum system dedicated toward technology development for NASA's Black Hole Imager vision mission under the Beyond Einstein Roadmap. Black Hole Imager will have the capability to resolve the event horizons of supermassive black holes in the X-ray bandpass sometime after 2025. To achieve this goal, staff will need to develop several technologies including interferometry at X-ray wavelengths. The GSFC X-ray Interferometry Testbed allows scientists to test these technologies. An X-ray Source is positioned at one end of the 600-meter beamline. Optical components to the interferometer are located 147 meters away from the source in a large vacuum chamber along the beamline. The detector is located at the far end of the beamline. The system is reconfigurable, so other geometries can be tested as needed.

The former Science Operations Branch (Code 600) operates the Astronomical Test Facility (ATF) which houses a 36-inch telescope. The ATF is a testbed for new astronomical instruments with space and ground-based potential. Code 684 tests this equipment under actual observing conditions, avoiding the time and expense of going to remote sites. Examples include the detectors (charge coupled devices, CCD) and multi-anode microchannel array (MAMA) for the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrometer (STIS). The ATF's secondary objectives are to: (1) demonstrate the feasibly of research ideas; (2) support spacecraft observations (e.g. International Ultraviolet Explorer, IUE, and the Galileo Mission), and (3) train high school and undergraduate students as observatory assistants, giving them practical experience in all phases of experimental astronomy. The advantages of the ATF are: (1) its convenient location, (2) the quick and easy access to large blocks of telescope time more suitable to instrument engineering runs, and (3) low cost. Instruments tested and debugged at the ATF have subsequently gone to many major observatories including Kitt Peak National Observatory, the European Southern Observatory, McDonald Observatory, and Steward Observatory, to name a few.The former Nuclear Astrophysics Branch (Code 600) operates a series of optical CCD telescope instruments in a development program to look for optical flashes associated with Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB). The first instrument was the Rapidly Moving Telescope (RMT) which could slew to any point on the sky in less than one second and take high time resolution (1.5 sec), high angular resolution (1 arcsec) images to 15th magnitude of the GRB location. After development at GGAO, the RMT was moved to its permanent home at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

The Goddard Astronomy Club has two telescopes housed at GGAO. One is a 12-inch Newtonian Telescope that club members use to make various astronomical observations. The GSFC Explorer Post 1275 is using buildings 204 and 207 as part of its youth training program. The main thrust of this program is to allow youth between the ages of 14 and 21 to explore the possibilities of a career in astronomy, physics, and related fields.

Learn more about acivities at GGAO by veiwing the Power Point presentation by Jan McGarry (November, 2020) below. Segments of the presentation at this link were presented at the International Laser Ranging Service’s Virtual World Tour on 5 November 2020.

The presentation has embedded audio; to listen, select "Slide show" in the tool bar at the top. Then click on "From beginnning" on the upper left and let the slides advance automatically.

Other Activities at GGAO