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Report from the Project Scientist

What a time! The contrasting highs and lows in the history of this Great Observatory have never been more extreme than with the announcement of Riccardo Giacconi's Nobel Prize and the sad, sad news of the passing of Leon van Speybroeck, just before he was to formally receive his Rossi prize. We are extremely fortunate that these individuals have played such vital roles in the conception, design, and development of the Chandra Observatory. We owe them both enormous debts of gratitude.

On other fronts, Project Science together with the CXC, particularly the calibration team, and members of the ACIS team, has been concentrating their technical efforts on measuring the composition and rate of build up of molecular contamination on the very cold ACIS-filters. The ACIS experiment, and the Observatory venting system, had, of course, been designed to allow for heating the instrument and boiling off contaminants.

Unfortunately, we have discovered, on-orbit, that heating also has the negative consequence of most likely increasing the charge transfer inefficiency of the front-illuminated CCDs. Thus, we are examining non-standard approaches to the heating and the possible consequences. Damaging the prime instrument on the Observatory is not a consequence that we can tolerate, so we are proceeding to study the situation very carefully before recommending solutions, if any.

We are pleased to announce the second conference highlighting science with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to be held on Sept 16-18, 2003 in Huntsville, AL. Please reserve the date on your calendars. More details will be posted at the CXC web site.

Martin Weisskopf

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