Dr. Haegel awarded NASA grant for Explorer Missions

Dr. Nancy Haegel, professor of physics at Fairfield University, has been awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to do research that will support the technology needed for Explorer Missions. Explorer programs are astronomy and space physics missions to study the Sun, Earth and planets and the Universe beyond the solar system. The Explorer Technology program is a new initiative to enhance scientific capabilities of future missions while reducing development time and life cycle costs.

Dr. Haegel, who conducts research on the optical and electrical properties of semiconductors, will be undertaking experimental and theoretical studies to improve the performance of semiconductor detectors in space-based far-infrared astronomy. The detectors are the heart of space-based telescopes, since they convert the light to electrical signals that can be processed and relayed to Earth. Dr. Haegel's research suggests new approaches for increasing the speed of the detectors while operating in space.

The research could also have implications for detector performance on SIRTF (Space Infrared Telescope Facility), a space-based telescope for infrared astronomy that will be launched next year.

The NASA award is the latest in a series of grants that Dr. Haegel has received to support her research. Over the past five years, she has received total grants of approximately $190,000 from the Research Corporation in Tucson, Arizona, the European Space Agency, the NATO Scientific Exchange Program and the SIRTF Science Center and the National Science Foundation.

Fairfield University's physics department was the only undergraduate program to receive an award in the Explorer Technology program. Undergraduate students are a key part of Dr. Haegel's research team, and last March two of her students presented their work at the American Physical Society's centennial celebration in Atlanta, Ga. Three to four students will be involved in the NASA project over the next two years.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 23, 1999

Vol. 32, No. 69

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