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Answers to previous cosmic and heliospheric questions

About our team of volunteer astrophysicists

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Please send us your age category (K - 4th grade, 5th - 8th grade, 9th - 12th grade, undergraduate student, graduate student, or adult out of school) when you send us a question. It is much easier to send you an appropriate answer when we know this. Thanks!

We strive to provide complete, understandable answers to questions about cosmic and heliospheric science and to encourage all to explore the many varied facets of scientific study. But before you send us your question, there are a few things we'd like for you to know:
  • Please read through the answers to previous questions before you ask us a question. We will not answer questions that have already been answered.

  • We can only answer questions that are written in English.

  • Unfortunately, some questions will not be answered because they are beyond our area of expertise or interest. Our field is, for the most part, limited to particles in the heliosphere. This covers:

    Due to the high volume of questions we are now receiving, we must be more strict about adhering to these subjects. We will, however, maintain the past questions and their answers on the site. There are several other sites that might be able to answer your questions in other areas of science. Here are just a few:

    And there are several excellent search engines out there, if we haven't yet mentioned your topic. Here are just a few:

  • Highly technical questions, or those that require us to do a lot of research, will probably not be answered.

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Your question may be answered in hours or in weeks; for most questions, it's somewhere in-between. The time to reply depends on many factors: how many other questions we have received, the complexity of your question, and the other projects that our scientists are involved in. These are working NASA scientists, after all!

About our volunteer team of astrophysicists:

Dr. Louis Barbier is interviewed about being an astrophysicist: a typical day, his projects, the job market, etc. This interview is from questions received from one of our readers.

Dr. Eric Christian is a featured scientist at the "Imagine the Universe!" learning center. Find out about his background, scientific interests, how he became an astrophysicist, and a typical day at work by clicking on his name.

Dr. Georgia A. de Nolfo is currently a research scientist at NASA/GSFC. Her research interests focus on the physics of high energy cosmic rays including the analysis of data from both high-altitude balloon-borne experiments such as TIGER and space-based experiments such as ACE.

Dr. Jeff George is no longer answering questions, but during his stint, his work was at Caltech, using data from NASA's ACE mission to study galactic cosmic rays.

Dr. J. R. Jokipii is a Regents' professor of Planetary Sciences and Astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. His research interests cover the rarified gases in space, ranging from the solar atmosphere to the interstellar gas, including the energetic particles, or cosmic rays, which permeate these gases.

Dr. Eberhard Moebius is a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire, teaching both physics and astronomy courses. His research interests include acceleration of ions in the Earth's magnetosphere, in interplanetary space, and in solar flares, as well as the interaction of interstellar gas with the solar wind.

Dr. Mark Popecki is a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire working on data analysis for the ACE/SEPICA instrument, and on instrument development for the STEREO project, to learn more about energetic particles from the Sun.

Dr. Charles W. (Chuck) Smith is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of New Hampshire. His research interests include the solar wind, interplanetary magnetic field, and the interaction of the solar wind with planets and particles. He is the Data Manager for the ACE/MAG instrument.

Dr. Nicholas (Nick) Sterling is a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA/GSFC. His research interests involve the study of planetary nebulae via spectroscopy. Specifically, he studies exotic elements in these objects, including selenium, bromine, krypton, and xenon, which can be produced by the low-mass stars that form planetary nebulae. He is also interested in the atomic properties of these elements, which are vital for accurately determining their abundances.

Dr. Edward F. (Ed) Tedesco is an Associate Research Professor at the University of New Hampshire. He mainly studies asteroids using observations at visual and infrared wavelengths obtained with ground- and space-based telescopes. He is currently President of the International Astronomical Union's Commission on Physical Studies of Comets and Minor Planets.

Pin Wu is a PhD student at the Boston University Astronomy department. She has published research papers on the Earth's magnetosphere and solar coronal mass ejections. She is currently involved in the IBEX mission, working on simulating the heliospheric termination shock.

Answers to previous cosmic and heliospheric questions

General Physics

Space Physics

Cosmic Rays, Energetic Particles, Plasma


Earth and Moon

Space Weather

Planets and Moons


Studying and Exploring Space



TRACE sun mosaic Supernova 1006 (ASCA) 30
Doradus ACE
spacecraft TRACE solar flare IMAGE magnetosphere
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Last modified October 29, 2008