Call for Letters of Application


Membership in the ASTRO-H Mission Science Working Group

December 2008

Note added on Dec 29, 2008 The paragraph labeled "This Call" has been updated to clarify the definition of "U.S. scientist."
Deadlline Extended Membership application deadline has been extended to 4:30pm EST on January 13, 2009.

This letter is an invitation to U.S. scientists to serve as members of the ASTRO-H Mission (formerly known as the New Exploration X-ray Telescope [NeXT]) Science Working Group (SWG). The SWG is being constituted by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to provide scientific guidance to the ASTRO-H Project relative to the design/development and operations phases of the mission. It will include individuals from both the instrument teams and the broader astrophysics community.

Background: NASA and JAXA have agreed to participate in a joint mission to investigate the physics of the high-energy universe utilizing an advanced X-ray observatory capable of high-resolution, high-throughput spectroscopy with moderate spatial resolution over the 0.3 - 600 keV energy band. The ASTRO-H mission is the sixth in a series of X-ray missions initiated by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) beginning with the launch of Hakucho in 1979 through to the currently operating Suzaku mission. In response to the 2007 NASA Announcement of Opportunity soliciting investigations for Small Explorer (SMEX) missions and Missions of Opportunity (MO), a group headed by Dr. Richard Kelley of Goddard Space Flight Center was selected to provide key components of a high-resolution X-ray calorimeter spectrometer (Soft X-ray Spectrometer [SXS]) that will constitute one of the observatory's primary science instruments. The Goddard proposal was selected for design/development of the U.S. portion of the SXS instrument and its operation on ASTRO-H during the in-orbit checkout phase (~ 1 - 2 months) and initial six months of nominal science operations ("baseline NASA program"). Individuals selected in response to this Call will be expected to provide their time and expertise in assisting the ASTRO-H team to optimize the mission's scientific return and will nominally serve through the end of the baseline NASA program. A more detailed description of the mission may be found at the following website:

International Cooperation: NASA and JAXA will play the following roles, respectively, in their partnership:

a) JAXA will be the lead agency for ASTRO-H, responsible for the success of the overall mission;
b) JAXA will provide the primary observatory components including the spacecraft bus, three science instruments (Soft X-ray Imager [SXI], Hard X-ray Imager [HXI], and Soft Gamma-ray Detector [SGD]), and cooling system and other supporting hardware for the SXS instrument.
c) NASA will collaborate with JAXA on the development of the SXS instrument, providing key hardware for the X-ray Calorimeter Spectrometer (XCS) and Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT).
d) JAXA and NASA will establish a Science Working Group to provide scientific guidance relevant to the design/development/operations of the mission and will provide support of the participation of their respective members.
e) JAXA will provide a launch in mid-2013 and support of mission operations.

This Call: NASA and JAXA are responsible for selection of their respective representatives on the SWG. NASA is soliciting letters from scientists affiliated with U.S. institutions to apply for membership in the ASTRO-H SWG. This solicitation is NOT open to SXS team members Letters are invited from individuals, not groups. Note that NASA is particularly interested in receiving applications from individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and experience. Letters from prospective participants in various career stages with expertise in a range of disciplines including flight hardware development, theory/modeling, and observation/data analysis are welcome.

Letters shall be limited to four pages, with 11-pt font and 1-inch margins, and should include the following content:

a) Provide a description of the specific scientific area(s) that you propose to contribute to in your capacity as a member of the SWG. Please give a specific example(s) of a candidate science investigation(s) you wish to assist in defining for potential execution during the baseline NASA program.
b) Describe your current research and scientific expertise in the areas of direct relevance to the ASTRO-H mission science goals. You should include references to papers that you have published that are of direct relevance to your proposed participation in the SWG.
c) Provide a statement of your commitment to supporting your participation in the ASTRO-H SWG through the baseline NASA program phase (early 2014). This should include a discussion of the level of effort that you are prepared to devote to your responsibilities as a SWG member during this timeframe.

U.S. membership in the SWG will be determined by NASA, in consultation with JAXA, following a review of the applications received in response to this Call. The SWG will be chaired by the ASTRO-H PI/Project Manager, Dr. Tadayuki Takahashi. Meetings will be held on a roughly semiannual basis (usually at ISAS) and will typically last two to three days. Travel expenses of U.S. members will be reimbursed by NASA.

NASA and JAXA wish to identify their respective SWG members as soon as possible and tentatively plan to hold the initial SWG meeting in late February 2009. NASA expects to select five or six individuals to serve as U.S. science community representatives on the SWG.

Your reply to this invitation should be submitted by email only, and be received by 4:30pm EST on 13 January 2009. Please email your letter to the NASA Program Scientist at the following address:

Dr. Louis J. Kaluzienski
NASA ASTRO-H Program Scientist
Astrophysics Division
Phone: 202-358-0365

Thank you for your interest in participating in the ASTRO-H mission.