Director's Log

Patrick Slane

“Hi Dr. Slane. I’m Marcus from next door. My mom says you’re the new Director of the Chandra X-ray Center. The one that runs NASA’s big X-ray observatory. That sounds amazing! What’s it like?”

“Well Marcus (and cool mask, by the way), after eating my usual bowl of cereal every morning, I walk fifteen feet to a corner of my house where I’ve got a desk and a computer, and I spend my entire day sending email and doing Zoom meetings. When my WiFi goes down, I sometimes yell a little bit.”

“Yeah, that sounds like my friend Chloe’s summer job working for Barnes & Noble.”


Ok, to be honest, there’s a bit more to the story than that.

As most of the community knows by now, I was selected as the new CXC Director when Belinda Wilkes stepped down in late September. Having been involved with Chandra since completing graduate school, it is both a thrill and an honor to take on such a position. My task is made easier than it might otherwise have been, given that I have worked so closely with both Belinda and Harvey Tananbaum, our first Director. I’ve had incredibly good role models for the position.

Figure 1

Dr. Patrick (Pat) Slane, Director of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC). Credits: CXC

But if the opening dialog suggests the tone of a let-down in taking on this new role in the midst of a pandemic, I’m not going to deny that. Like most people reading this, I haven’t seen my colleagues in person since March. Part of the joy associated with working on Chandra is the great team at the CXC, and the great number of professional colleagues in the community. I am patiently awaiting the opportunity to gather with you all again.

As summarized within this Newsletter, the teams at the CXC transitioned to remote support of the mission with incredible success early in the year. We have held a remote peer review, supported the summer AAS meeting, held a very successful workshop on time-domain astronomy, met with our Users’ Committee, and successfully worked through a significant anomaly with the HRC detector. We have continued to support TOO and DDT programs, and at present are completing the final details to prepare for the Cycle 23 Call for Proposals. In short, the entire Chandra effort is running smoothly, and the team is doing an outstanding job to keep it that way.

We are nearing the point of having the long-term schedule completed for Cycle 22 Chandra observations, and look forward to a broad range of spectacular results that will surely be highlighted in the pages of upcoming Newsletters. Please keep in touch with us with exciting news about your studies and questions or suggestions that can help us support your work. Chandra has many productive years ahead, and I look forward to working with the entire community to ensure that we all continue to produce the high-quality science that has characterized Chandra for more than two decades now.

Here’s hoping to see you all at our virtual booth at the upcoming January AAS meeting, and in person in Salt Lake City the following year, if not well before!