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NASA NuSTAR scientist Fiona Harrison receives top astrophysics prize

Fiona A. Harrison (Image credit: NASA)

Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array mission (NuSTAR), has been awarded the “2015 Rossi Prize”.

Harrison, professor at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, has been chosen for the award for her “groundbreaking work on supernova remnants, neutron stars and black holes enabled by NuSTAR.”

Harrison’s “assembly and leadership of the extraordinary NuSTAR team has opened a new window on the Universe,” read the citation for the Rossi Prize.

According to Harrison, “The exciting scientific results from NuSTAR are the culmination of close to two decades of work by a talented and dedicated team.”

This is the top prize in high-energy astrophysics and is granted by the American Astronomical Society’s High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD).

NuSTAR was launched in June 2012 under NASA’s Small Explorer programme and is the most powerful high-energy X-ray telescope ever developed.

By focusing high-energy X-rays, NuSTAR is able to study some of the hottest, densest and most energetic phenomena in the universe, including black holes, collapsed stars and supernovae remnants.

The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia.

Harrison was earlier awarded the Robert A. Millikan Prize Fellowship in Experimental Physics in 1993 and the Presidential Early Career Award in 2000.

She was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News and the Kennedy School of Government in 2008, and received the NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal in 2013.

She was a NASA graduate student research fellow from 1989 to 1992, and received her doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1993.

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