Dr. John Nousek works in the area of high energy astronomy. He contributes to the development of hardware and software for X-ray detectors, including data distribution and analysis systems, and uses them to study interesting X-ray sources, including gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants, soft X-ray sources, the diffuse X-ray background and scattering from dust grains. Dr. Nousek is the Principal Investigator at Penn State for the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer satellite. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are titanic releases of energy near the edges of the Universe. A typical burst flares brilliantly for a few seconds or minutes, then leaves a fading afterglow in the X-ray and UV/optical portion, which lasts for days days or weeks. Dr. Nousek lead the development, testing and operation of the X-ray and UV/optical telescopes on Swift which have been studying thousands of astrophysical sources (including GRBs) since Swift's launch in November, 2004. He is in charge of the SWIFT mission operations center, which is located at Penn State and which has operated the satellite continuously since launch.
Dr. Nousek's software development activities included being the lead co-investigator for the CCD Imaging Spectrometer on Chandra. His responsibilities included the software for selecting and displaying the CCD camera data as images and spectra, and for simulating the response of the detector to the X-rays from astronomical objects.
Dr. Nousek has also a member of the Constellation-X and International X-ray Observatory Facility Science Team, which has been planning the next major X-ray mission after Chandra, and has received funding to test and evaluate CCD camera designs for that mission. He also serves on the U.S.-Japan Suzaku Science Working Group, which has supported the science activities of that satellite since launch in 2005.
In addition to his involvement in X-ray data, Dr. Nousek is also interested in the problems associated with the electronic distribution of astronomical data and results. Dr. Nousek served a three-year term as a member of the Publications Board of the AAS, and chaired a subcommitee on classification and information retrieval for the American Institute of Physics. He also served a 3-year term on the Executive Committee of the High-Energy Astrophysics Division of the AAS. He also sits on the Astrophysics Subcommittee advising NASA Headquarters' Science Mission Directorate.