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Advancing X-ray astronomy
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UI researcher Randall McEntaffer (left) and aerospace engineer Ted Schultz display a prototype X-ray telescope grating alignment mount. Photo by Ted Schultz.
University of Iowa researcher Randall McEntaffer has received a NASA Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship to develop X-ray reflection gratings for future NASA missions.
Consisting of a $278,600 one-year concept study and a $1,438,435 four-year development phase, the fellowship is valued at a total of more than $1.7 million.
Earlier this year, McEntaffer and his UI colleagues, who are leading an international team studying a novel type of X-ray spectrograph, won a two-year, $1 million NASA grant to improve X-ray gratings and other research instruments to be carried aboard future space telescopes.
The researchers are studying new, state-of-the-art methods for fabricating diffraction gratings, the heart of the spectrographs.
“This cutting-edge method combines our previous study technologies with well-known semi-conductor industrial techniques. This new form of nanofabrication will utilize the new facilities at the UI Optical Science and Technology Center at the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories,” says McEntaffer, assistant professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The goal of the Roman Fellowships in part is to give early career researchers the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to lead astrophysics flight instruments/projects and become principal investigators of future astrophysics missions.