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Harvey Tananbaum to Step Down as CXC Director

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 06:56

Harvey Tananbaum has announced his decision to step down as the director of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), the science and operations center for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

In response to the news of Harvey's plans, Dr. Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division, said, "Harvey Tananbaum made the success of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, both during development and during its 14 years (and counting) of operations, his personal mission. NASA and the astronomical community owe Harvey a debt of gratitude for all of the transformative science that Chandra has enabled."

"The scientific community owes Harvey Tananbaum a deep-felt thanks for his extraordinary contributions to the Chandra mission," said Dr. Martin Weisskopf, Chandra's project scientist. "I, for one, who have been working with Harvey on Chandra for decades (I still know his telephone number), will miss his inspired, frank, and dedicated leadership of the CXC. Thankfully, he plans to continue to serve high-energy astronomy beyond this milestone."

And Randy Baggett, Chandra's program manager, commented, "Harvey's contributions to Chandra have been exemplary. His unique leadership abilities and passion for X-ray astronomy have served NASA with distinction for over four decades."

Professor Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also responded: "Harvey is a great and visionary scientist, a talented manager, and a wonderful human being. His leadership has assured that Chandra is an extraordinarily effective scientific instrument. This will be a tough act to follow!"

Prior to his 22 years as CXC director, Harvey was involved in nearly every aspect of the Chandra program. He played a leading role in getting the mission (originally known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility, AXAF) approved, and he was deeply involved at all stages in its design and implementation. In the 1990s Harvey was responsible for the establishment of the CXC at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks in large part to Harvey's leadership, Chandra is one of NASA's most productive and successful scientific endeavors. After ending his role as director early in 2014, Harvey will continue to support a range of programs in high-energy astrophysics at SAO.

A search for a new CXC director is now under way. 

Roger J. V. Brissenden