Dr. Martin Weisskopf Honored with George W. Goddard Award

Press Release From: Marshall Space Flight Center
Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2006


Dr. Martin Weisskopf of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has received the George W. Goddard Award for scientific contributions to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Weisskopf is the project scientist for Chandra, the world's most powerful X-ray telescope.

Presented annually since 1961 by the International Society for Optical Engineering, the award is named for the late U.S. Air Force Gen. George W. Goddard, a pioneer of aerial reconnaissance and photography. It recognizes the invention and development of new techniques, instruments or systems that substantially advance aerospace, atmospheric science or astronomy applications.

Weisskopf has dedicated nearly three decades of his career to the Chandra X-ray Observatory Program. He joined the observatory project in 1977. Twenty-two years later, he saw decades of work pay off when Chandra launched and delivered its first groundbreaking images to the world. Today, Weisskopf continues to play a key role in Chandra scientific operations. As project scientist, he is responsible for the scientific integrity of the Chandra Program.

One of NASA's four "Great Observatories," Chandra has helped scientists better understand the structure and evolution of the universe - generating the most sensitive or "deepest" X-ray exposure ever made, shedding new light on planets within our solar system and making a multitude of discoveries involving supermassive black holes.

Weisskopf has a bachelor's degree in physics from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and a doctorate in physics from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. He began his post-graduate career at Columbia University, New York, in 1969, where he became an assistant professor and performed many pioneering experiments in X-ray astronomy. In 1977, Weisskopf joined the Marshall Center as senior X-ray astronomer and project scientist for Chandra.

During his career, he has held numerous special appointments and earned a wide array of accolades. Awards include NASA Medals for Exceptional Service and for Scientific Achievement, a 2003 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Executives, and the 2004 Rossi Prize for research in astrophysics. In 1994, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2001 as a fellow in the International Society for Optical Engineering. Weisskopf is author or co-author of 236 publications including peer-reviewed journal articles, articles in books, monographs and papers in conference proceedings.

Based in Bellingham, Wash., the International Society for Optical Engineering is a technical association for engineering and scientific applications of technologies related to optics, imaging and photonics -- the electronic technology behind optical devices such as lasers or video cameras. The largest professional optics engineering society of its kind, the organization has more than 17,000 individual members in more than 80 countries.

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