A Mega Flare from a Mini Star


At 2107 UTC on  23 April, the rising tide of X-rays from a superflare on red dwarf DG CVn triggered Swift‘s Burst Alert Telescope (BAT). The satellite turned to observe the source in greater detail with its other instruments and notified astronomers around the globe that a powerful outburst was in progress.

BTW, my principal contribution to the Swift satellite was the design and testing of the ultra-quiet power regulation system for the sensor array in the BAT.

Video Credit: NASA

Too Close for Comfort


Video Credit: NASA

UPDATE—A personal note: I contributed to the design of components of the Burst Alert Telescope instrument on Swift. My contributions include the ultra-quiet power regulators for the detectors in the instrument, the variable high-voltage supply for the detectors, and the pulse-width-modulation regulator for the thermal control system of the BAT. The same PWM regulator was also used in other locations on the satellite.

Comet Siding Spring


Siding SpringThis is a composite of a series of images of Comet Siding Spring taken by the UV Optical Telescope aboard the Swift satellite during the last week of May.

The comet will make a close approach to Mars on 19 October, passing about 138,000 km from the planet. That’s should be close enough that gas and dust in the outermost reaches of the comet’s atmosphere, or coma, will interact with the atmosphere of Mars.

The closest recorded Earth approach by a comet was by the now-defunct comet Lexell. In 1770, it came within 2.3 million km. That’s roughly 6X the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Image Credit: NASA

Comet Siding Spring


Siding SpringThis is a composite of a series of images of Comet Siding Spring taken by the UV Optical Telescope aboard the Swift satellite during the last week of May.

The comet will make a close approach to Mars on 19 October, passing about 138,000 km from the planet. That’s should be close enough that gas and dust in the outermost reaches of the comet’s atmosphere, or coma, will interact with the atmosphere of Mars.

The closest recorded Earth approach by a comet was by the now-defunct comet Lexell. In 1770, it came within 2.3 million km. That’s roughly 6X the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Image Credit: NASA