Physicist wins award for space-based technology

Physicist wins award for space-based technology

A University of Iowa physicist has won an award to improve the readiness of a particular technology for future space-based missions.

Casey DeRoo, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will focus on building and measuring the performance of an optical element known as a diffraction grating. Diffraction gratings are used in conjunction with astronomical telescopes to form spectra, which show how the brightness of a source is divided up by energy.

“A host of interesting physics can be extracted from spectra, like the temperature, density, composition, and velocity of material surrounding a distant astronomical object,” DeRoo says. “As we can’t physically go to these objects that are light-years away, spectra are our best diagnostic for figuring out what’s going on around supermassive black holes, hot massive stars, and in an exoplanet’s local surroundings.”

The award is through NASA’s Astrophysics Division, and totals $599,000 over two years.

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