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Haroon-MaSHER-3DBased on his hypothetical Mars mission proposal "The Mars Subterranean Hydrothermal Exploration Rover - MaSHER," GWPAC researcher and Santiago Canyon College undergraduate Haroon Khan has been selected to visit the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory February 26-28th as part of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program.

Haroon joined GWPAC in 2013 as a STEM^2 summer undergraduate researcher, studying, with Prof Geoffrey Lovelace, the mergers of binary-black-hole systems using computer simulations on the ORCA cluster.

Haroon's proposed mission involves landing the MaSHER rover in Mars' Valles Marineris canyon with the main goal of finding underground sources of water, gas, and/or other potential life sustaining materials. Another objective of the mission is to test the effectiveness of harnessing wind on Mars as an energy source, using WindBelt technology. His proposal also included a 3-D design, launch and travel timeline, and approximate weight and cost. Haroon's mission proposal received a grade of 97/100, leading to his selection for the on-site portion of the program.  

A poster summarizing Haroon's program is available.

Please help us in congratulating Haroon for this amazing accomplishment - and wish him best of luck for the next phase!


Jocelyn Josh Ghandi smallGWPAC and Department of Physics faculty members Jocelyn Read and Josh Smith attended the Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Workshop (GWPAW) held December 17- 20, 2013 at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, India.

Both were invited to present on aspects of gravitational-wave astronomy, Jocelyn on "Measuring the Neutron Star Equation of State," and Josh on "Detector characterization to prepare for the first gravitational-wave detections."

The workshop was a gathering of 173 gravitational-wave scientists from around the world, and was held at a particularly exciting time, as India and the United States are strengthening their collaboration in gravitational-wave astronomy. We're looking forward to future Indo-Fullerton gravitaitonal-wave research. 

Many thanks to the scientific and local organizing committees, particularly the meeting chair, Sukanta Bose (IUCAA & Washington State U.).


The National Science Foundation has awarded Jocelyn Read $126,000 in funding for the three-year research project "RUI: Dense Matter and Gravitational Waves: The Coalescence of Neutron Star Binaries."

Jocelyn Read and Geoffrey LovelaceJocelyn Read and Geoffrey Lovelace at their new Orange County Relativity Cluster for Astronomy (ORCA).

This award will support research by Jocelyn and her students to understand the effects on neutron star matter on the inspiral and merger of binary neutron-star systems. The results will be used by Read and other scientists in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to perform more accurate searches for gravitational-waves and to better estimate the parameters (distances, orientations, component masses and spins) of the first gravitaional wave detections. Gravitational-wave measurements of neutron-star matter effects will potentially shine new light on the equation of state of matter above nuclear density, which is currently uncertain and a key research topic in both nuclear physics and astrophysics.

Jocelyn joined CSUF as an assistant professor of physics in 2012 and has kicked off a very active research program. She is currently mentoring a number of students on astrophysics projects, has co-authored several papers, and has collaborated with GWPAC faculty member Geoffrey Lovelace to build and administer the Orange county Relativity Cluster for Astronomy (ORCA) - a 240 core supercomputer located on the CSU Fullerton campus. With this NSF support, Jocelyn and her students will deepen their neutron-star research with the goal of helping Advanced LIGO and its international partners to make and interpret the first direct detections of gravitational waves from neutron star binaries.

Congratulations Jocelyn! We can't wait to see your results.

GWPAC member and junior physics major Adrian Avila-Alvarez and GWPAC director Josh Smith attended the 2013 SACNAS National Conference in San Antonio, TX October 3-6.

Adrian presented a poster on his CSUF research entitled, "Scattered Light Measurements for Advanced LIGO's Output Mode-Cleaner Mirrors." This work, funded by Josh's NSF CAREER award, is aimed at characterizing the optics that are used to improve the shot noise limit to sensitivity of the Advanced LIGO detectors. 


Josh helped to staff the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) outreach and recruitment booth.

Among the highlights of the meeting were an incredible keynote address by biologist and nobel laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie and an inspiring welcome from San Antonio mayor Julian Castro.  


While en route, Josh and Adrian also witnessed a very strong set of cloud lines caused by gravity waves (not to be confused with gravitational waves!), an atmospheric phenomenon caused by air being pressed up over mountains and then oscillating like a pendulum forming clouds at each of its crests.

Adrian and Josh are already looking forward to SACNAS 2014 in LA!

Geoffrey Lovelace and Jocelyn Read at their ORCA computing cluster.Geoffrey Lovelace and Jocelyn Read at their ORCA computing cluster.Geoffrey Lovelace has received $126,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to support the three-year project "RUI: Numerical Simulations of Merging Black Holes and Neutron Stars."

As members of the Simulating Extreme Spacetimes Collaboration, Geoffrey and his students will use supercomputers and the Spectral Einstein Code (SpEC) to numerically solve Einstein's equations for binary systems of two black holes or a black hole and a neutron star, simulating the orbital parameters and the gravitational-waves that are emitted as the objects spiral in to each other and eventually merge. This research will provide information about how black holes and neutron stars behave under the most extreme conditions of strong gravity, orbital speeds, and black-hole spin. The gravitational waveforms that are produced will help extend the reach of LIGO and help us to learn as much as possible from the first detections of gravitational waves.

Geoffrey joined the CSUF department of physics as an Assistant Professor in 2012, and has had a very productive first year mentoring students in research, and publishing several papers, and together with fellow GWPAC faculty member Jocelyn Read building the Orange county Relativity Cluster for Astronomy (ORCA), a 240 core supercomputer at CSU Fullerton. This NSF funding will allow Geoffrey and his students to expand their already excellent research.

Congratulations Geoffrey!