The MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI) includes several research groups carrying out diverse programs. Major areas include:
Activities include the design, construction, testing and launch of satellite-borne instruments for the study of celestial x-ray sources, and the analysis of data from these instruments. A large database from past and active experiments is used to study a variety of x-ray phenomena from galactic and extragalactic sources. In February 1993, the first high throughput, solid state imaging spectrometer, developed at the MIT CCD Laboratory, was launched on the Japan/U.S. Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA) mission. The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), carring the MIT-developed All Sky Monitor (ASM) instrument, was successfully launched in December 1995. Near "realtime" data reduction and analysis for RXTE is currently under way at CSR. Major new satellite instruments are being designed and constructed, including those for the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), the Japan/U.S. Astro-E mission, and for the High Energy Transient Experiment (HETE). CXO is scheduled for launch in 1999, and HETE-2 will launch in early 2000. Undergraduate student involvement in the operations and data analysis for all three satellites is anticipated.
A variety of new photon detectors for future space missions is being developed based on silicon charge-coupled device (CCD) technology. Devices for both optical and x-ray sensing are being evaluated. Activities include array design and detector fabrication and testing. Among the instruments scheduled for launch or under development are new focal plane detectors for various optical, UV, and x-ray telescopes. The Space Nanotechnology Laboratory is developing improved x-ray transmission gratings, reflection gratings and novel x-ray optics. Dr. Schattenburg.
Interplanetary Plasma Studies
Plasma detectors on the WIND spacecraft (launched November 1994) are the latest in a series of instruments designed, built, and tested at CSR with the aim of studying the properties of the interplanetary solar wind plasma, its interaction with planets, and eventually, its interaction with the interstellar medium. Interpretation of the WIND, as well as data from Voyager 1,2, and IMP-8, is under way. Prof. Belcher, Dr. Lazarus, Dr. Richardson, Dr. Steinberg, and K. Paularena.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), a two-element transcontinental baseline gravity-wave detector, is currently undergoing development. The project involves participation by both MIT and CalTech. Prof. Weiss and Dr. Shoemaker.
Topics currently under investigation include structure and properties of galactic x-ray sources; x-ray bursters; physics of supernova explosions; compact binary stellar systems; physics of neutron stars; pulsars, and black holes; cosmology; general relativity; cosmic microwave background radiation and structure formation; solar and stellar winds; magnetohydrodynamics of rotating stars; and geoplasma physics. Profs. Belcher, Bertschinger, Guth, Joss, Kumar, Morrison, Rappaport, Rasio and Dr. Chang.
Observations of celestial objects (gamma ray bursters, pulsars, x-ray novae, active galaxies, clusters of galaxies, quasars, gravitational lenses and sometimes ordinary stars) are carried at radio, infrared and optical, wavelengths using national observatories and MITÕs Haystack Radio Observatory. MIT is participating in the construction of two 6.5-m Magellan telescopes, to be used in the optical and infrared at Cerro Las Campanas in Chile. Profs. Bradt, Burke, Canizares, Clark, Kaspi, Hewitt, Schechter, and Dr. Ricker.
Studies are carried out in the areas of habituation to novel vestibular environments with particular reference to space flight, compensatory visual neural changes with eye movements, visual vestibular interaction and its application to flight simulation, motion sickness, special pedagogic studies in arithmetic, and ski accident research. Experiments on vestibular functions and space motion sickness are being carried out on Space Shuttle/Spacelab missions. Prof. Young, Dr. Oman.
Engineering studies and design of space hardware and systems carried out at CSR and its Laboratory for Space Experiments. Dr. W. Mayer and staff engineers.
UROP for Credit:
Arranged through the faculty supervisor's academic department.
Current Research Profile
- Dr. Mark L. Schattenburg, 37-487, x3-3180, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nanostructures, nanotechnology and advanced lithography applied to fabrication and assembly of high-performance space optics, including high-resolution x-ray telescopes, x-ray and extreme-ultraviolet transmission gratings, and extreme-ultraviolet filters for atom telescopes. Advanced interference lithography for patterning nanometer-period gratings and grids for applications in nanometrology and nanodevices, including optical, electronic, and magnetic devices.