A Window to the UV Universe: The Engineering and Science Helmed by Dr. George Carruthers

February 2018


Dr. Emma Marcucci (Space Telescope Science Institute)


  • Dr. Kent Wood (Praxis, Inc.; retired from the Naval Research Laboratory)
  • Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi (Florida Institute of Technology)
  • Nancy Leon (NASA JPL)


Slide presentation:

Additional resources:

Briefing date: February 8, 2018 (3:30pm EST)


Every year the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) awards the Arthur B.C. Walker II Award to an African American scientist who demonstrates great achievement in astronomy and education. The 2017 award winner is astrophysicist Dr. George Carruthers, a 2012 National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient. Dr. Carruthers worked in UV astronomy at the Naval Research Laboratory beginning in the 1960s. His pioneering efforts include the first detection of molecular hydrogen in space using a UV spectrograph and the invention of a UV camera that flew on Apollo 16, producing the first far UV image of Earth, which opened a window on “invisible” light. In the 80s, Dr. Carruthers’ inventions captured an ultraviolet image of Halley’s Comet and one of his camera flew aboard the Space Shuttle. He also co-created a high school mentoring program, Science & Engineers Apprentice Program, which allowed students to spend the summer working with scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory.

We present this science briefing in recognition of Dr. George Carruthers and his contributions to UV astronomy. The briefing will include a review of Dr. Carruthers career, achievements, and inspiration of young scientists, as well as activities related to UV astronomy for the informal learning environment.



Dr. Emma Marcucci is an Education and Outreach Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute. She received her Ph.D. in planetary geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013. As a Postdoctoral Fellow, she worked with satellite stereo images to derive topographic models of locations that lack good elevation information, such as locations in Alaska and on Mars and Mercury. Dr. Marcucci is now part of the Office of Public Outreach at STScI, sharing the science of Hubble and Webb with the general public and astrophysics content as a member of the Universe of Learning, an Astrophysics-based STEM learning and literacy program funded through NASA SMD.

Dr. Kent Wood is an astrophysicist currently employed at Praxis, Inc. and resident at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), where he was employed as an astrophysicist until his retirement in 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.S. in Physics from Stanford University Galveston. In his career at NRL he was PI or Co-I on a number of satellite astrophysics experiments including HEAO A-1, the Unconventional Stellar Aspect Experiment (USA), The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope LAT, J-PEX (a sounding rocket high-resolution FUV spectrograph, with the highest spectral resolution yet achieved in this part of the spectrum), and the Neutron Star Interior and Composition Explorer (NICER), launched 2017. In these experiments, he worked on all aspects, from design, to flight, to data analysis and interpretation. He led development of the HEAO A-1 All-sky X-ray source catalog, the most complete and uniform catalog up to the time of its release. The USA Experiment was the first to explore X-ray navigation of satellites. His career overlapped that of Dr. George Carruthers, who was in the same Division, for more than three decades, so that they had many informal and collaborative interactions over that period.

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi serves as an Astrophysicist and the Space Sciences Education Lead for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. He also holds the title of Distinguished Research Professor of Physics & Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Dr. Oluseyi an internationally recognized astrophysicist, educator, inventor, author, humanitarian, mentor, and TV personality. He's made research contributions across diverse fields including astrophysics, cosmology, semiconductors, astronomical detectors and instruments, time-domain informatics, ion propulsion, and science education. He’s authored more than 70 scholarly articles, six books, and holds seven US patents and four EU patents. He’s supervised 10 PhD degrees, 33 Masters degrees, and a host of undergraduate researchers. Dr. Oluseyi is a renowned science communicator who currently hosts several shows on the Science Channel including Outrageous Acts of Science and How the Universe Works. He has also made appearances as an expert on ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News, HBO, MSNBC, PBS, and more. He's worked tirelessly over two decades to improve lives through extending educational and scientific opportunities and fostering understanding between people. To achieve these goals he’s partnered with the U.S. government and its agencies, foreign governments, national laboratories, philanthropic organizations, non-governmental organizations, private companies, and foundations. He has received several honors including selections as an MIT Faculty Fellow, TED Fellow, NASA Faculty Fellow, and induction into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Nancy Leon, NASA JPL, is the program manager of NASA's Space Place website, an online space for kids and educators to access NASA content.