NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

A post-doctoral student who will combine and process light from multiple telescopes to take super-sharp pictures of stars is the first recipient of a fellowship from NASA's Origins Program.

Rafael Millan-Gabet will conduct research on the blossoming technology of interferometry, which uses multiple telescopes, at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. He'll work at the Infrared Optical Telescope Array (IOTA) at Mount Hopkins, AZ, and the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array at Mount Wilson, CA.

"I was one of those kids fascinated by TV space documentaries," said Millan-Gabet, who was born in Cordoba, Spain and spent much of his childhood in the Canary Islands. He did his undergraduate studies in the Canary Islands and France, and graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts' Boston and Amherst campuses. Millan-Gabet is about to receive his Ph.D. from the Amherst campus. "I like to think about astronomy in a philosophical context."

That interest blends well with the goals of Origins, which includes several missions to study the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life. Interferometry will play a vital role in the Origins quest. "Because interferometry is a young, cutting- edge technology, it requires a lot of patience," Millan-Gabet said. "But the rewards will be phenomenal."

The Michelson Fellowship Program is funded through Origins and the Space Interferometry Mission at JPL. "Our goal is to support the science community by developing expertise in interferometry," said Dr. Rudolf Danner of JPL, who's developing the fellowship program. The program is named for the "father of interferometry," Albert Michelson, the first American to win a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The fellowship, to be awarded annually, is offered for two years with a possible one-year extension. It covers a stipend of approximately $42,000, with fringe benefits and a $10,000 research budget per year. The program also offers undergraduate fellowships.

JPL manages Origins for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

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