NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Election Year: 2010
Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member
As an astrophysicist, I have developed spaceflight instruments and satellites for observations of the gamma-ray sky. The scientific focus has been the study of explosive events such as gamma-ray bursts and supernovae. Through measurements made by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory we performed the first detailed exploration of the gamma-ray sky finding an isotropic sky distribution of gamma-ray bursts and line emission from unstable nuclei produced in supernova explosions. With the Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer, we determined precision positions and characteristics of short gamma-ray bursts and discovered that they are likely caused by stellar mergers. With the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope, we are measuring the high energy emission from gamma-ray bursts and supernova remnants. These three observatories have changed the field of gamma-ray asronomy from detection of a few unusual sources into a true astronomical discipline with catalogs of thousands of objects.