Who is behind the "Ask an Astrophysicist" service?
The "Ask an Astrophysicist" service is provided by a small number
of volunteers at the
for High Energy Astrophysics at
Goddard Space Flight Center,
and is a part of the Imagine
the Universe! public education/outreach site.
We do not represent the entirety of NASA. In particular, there are far
better experts on human space flight and planetary explorations,
two popular topics of incoming questions, elsewhere at various NASA centers.
What is our place within NASA?
NASA has its headquarters in downtown Washington, DC, and 'centers' all
around the US. For example, Johnson
Space Center in Houston, Texas, is the primary center for human space
flight, Kennedy Space Center in
Cape Canaveral, Florida, is the primary center for launch operations, and
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California is the primary center for planetary explorations.
A full listing of NASA
centers, as well as
news releases from NASA,
are available on the web.
Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Maryland (near Washington, DC) is the primary center for
Earth and Space sciences. Groups within the latter study the Sun,
the solar wind and the magnetosphere, as well as objects outside the
solar system. In addition to the X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray
astrophysicists at the
for High Energy Astrophysics, other groups specialize in ultraviolet
and infrared astronomy.
What questions do we answer?
We are experts on X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray astrophysics; in fact, our
group is among the biggest and the best in the world in these areas.
The questions we welcome the most are the ones that we are uniquely qualified
to answer: questions about the objects and processes that produce high
energy radiation and particles, the technology we use to detect them, or
in some closely related areas of astronomy or physics.
Common reasons for not answering a question
We may not answer your question if:
The last reason, unfortunately, is becoming more commonplace. Since
our service relies on volunteer efforts of busy scientists, engineers,
and programmers, we cannot answer all the questions we now receive.
In particular, we have declared certain popular topic areas
(space travel, solar system objects etc.) off-limits, since these
are outside our areas of expertise.
- It wasn't really a question.
- Your e-mail address was bad.
- It was a blatant case of "can you do my homework for me".
- It was completely outside our areas of expertise.
- You could have found the answer on our website, if you just
made a little bit of effort.
- We ran out of time.
Where else can you look for information/ask questions?
- Search engines --- You can find a lot of information if you know how to
use them effectively.
- Learn to do a web search.
- AskA+ locator
of the Virtual Reference Desk can point you to various "Ask an expert"
- On each subject page of our archive, we suggest a few good sites.