Goddard Retirees and Alumni Association
P.O. Box 163, Lanham, MD 20703-0163


Holiday Issue - Dec 11/Jan 12 http://graa.gsfc.nasa.gov 27th Year of Publication


January 10 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required, so either contact Alberta Moran on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at mdspacebr@aol.com no later than noon on Friday, January 6th. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Wayne Higgins, Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (and former Goddard employee). His presentation, “Climate Change and Trends in Extreme Weather and Climate Events,” will certainly represent weather-wise what we have experienced in the recent past.
February 14 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: This newsletter serves as both the last issue for 2011 and the first issue for 2012. I extend a wish to all members and their families for a joyous Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year. I want to thank all volunteers who prepare, publish and mail the newsletter, as well as those who arrange the luncheons, schedule speakers, correspond with members, shepherd our funds, and maintain our membership database. I want to especially thank members who made generous donations during the past year, for without such contributions GRAA would not remain a viable organization.

Dr. Neil Gehrels, Chief of Goddard’s Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, was our speaker at the November GRAA Luncheon. He described gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), how they were discovered, and Goddard missions that are observing them. The Vela suite of satellites beginning in the 1960’s, the mission of which was to detect nuclear bursts, first discovered GRBs. GRAA member Dr. Thomas Cline, based on results from his solar flare x-ray experiment in 1973, was the first to verify the discovery of GRBs. The Compton Observatory has been a major source of GRB data showing they are the brightest thing in the sky and come from distant galaxies as far as 130 billion light years away. GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the universe. The SWIFT mission, launched in 2004, determines the position of GRBs in three spectra (ultraviolet, gamma-ray, and X-ray). Dr. Gehrels showed an animation of neutron stars becoming black holes producing jets of radiation that are GRBs. He is definitely passionate about his work and made the subject matter understandable for attendees.

December 30, 1995: A Delta II rocket launched the X-ray Timing Explorer (XTE), also known as Rossi XTE and Explorer 69. Its primary objective is to observe and study the time structure of astronomical X-ray sources.
January 11, 1968: A Delta rocket launched the Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite-B, also known as GEOS-2 and Explorer 36. Its objectives were to optimize optical station visibility periods and to provide complementary data for inclination-dependent terms established by GEOS-A/Explorer 29 research.

RECENT RETIREES: George L. Kientz, Pamela A. Starling, and Gerald R. Zgonc.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Bob Wigand reports tax-deductible contributions were received from the following members: Ellen Herring, Elbert and Anneliese Jones, Bob and Aleta Johnson (in memory of Nadine Taub), Paul Karpiscak, John Lahzun, Harley Mann, William McGunigal, James Morakis, Ronald Muller, Thomas Ryan, and Richard Strafella.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO GRAA ENCOURAGED : Only two weeks remain in 2011 for you to consider sending in a contribution to help GRAA remain financially-viable and possibly deduct your donation from your 2011 federal income tax. Remember, we will be publishing a new Membership Directory in the spring at a cost of about $3000.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: As seniors, we should take back those times we didn’t want to nap as children.


•  Thomas J. Butash, of Centreville, VA (formerly of Lanham, MD), passed away on November 11th as a result of complications from a fall. He was a Design Engineer at Goddard and worked on numerous satellite and Space Shuttle programs.

•  James T. Bynum, Sr., of Snow Hill, MD, passed away on November 20th. He was an Aerospace Engineering Technician at the Wallops Flight Facility and its predecessor naval facilities.

•  Marion G. (Gary) Dennis, of Deltaville, VA, passed away on October 6th. As an Engineer, he worked at Goddard for 30+ years in satellite communications and Space Shuttle programs. During the 1960’s, he served as Station Director of the Satellite Tracking Station located in Rosman, NC.

•  Peter P. Mihelic, of Parksley, VA, passed away on November 26th. After serving 22 years with the US Navy, his second career was at the Wallops Flight Facility, where he served for 23 years. At his retirement in 1985, he was Head of the Vehicle Assembly and Launch Section in the Launch Vehicles Branch of the Operations Division.

•  George F. Pieper, of Atlantic Beach, FL, passed away on November 12th as a result of complications from a fall. He was a Physicist and Goddard’s first and longest serving Director of Sciences. After retiring, he served as GRAA President for more than a decade prior to relocating to FL.

•  Nadine A. Taub, of Bowie, MD, passed away on November 25th from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Among several administrative assignments during her career, she served as Travel Administrator for the Laboratory for Atmospheres.

•  Roger V. Tetrick, of Ormond Beach, FL, passed away on October 23rd. He was an Electrical Engineer who, among numerous assignments, was Mission Support Manager for Atmosphere Explorers D and E projects, NASA Tracking and Data Manager for Telstar II, and Assistant Director of the Space Station Project.

•  John W. (Jack) Townsend, Jr., of Cabin John, MD, passed away from lung cancer on October 29th. He was a Physicist as well as a NASA pioneer and innovator. When NASA was conceived in 1958, he transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory to NASA and became Chief of the Space Sciences Division. Soon after, he became instrumental in establishing Goddard’s physical presence and then was instrumental in determining the types of research that would take place at Goddard. Dr. Townsend later served as Goddard’s Deputy Director for three years before moving on to be Deputy Administrator at what would later become NOAA. He then went on to hold senior positions at Fairchild Industries, and then returned to NASA after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, serving at NASA Headquarters for a short period and then as Center Director from 1987 to 1990.

•  Frank M. Wrigley, of Silver Spring, MD (formerly of Lanham, MD), passed away on November 15th from complications of heart disease. He was an Electronics Engineer who, among various assignments, worked in the Advanced Orbital Programming Branch and the Networks Division. Frank was a GRAA volunteer for many years, helping principally with processing the monthly newsletter.

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO HONOR GODDARD EMPLOYEE FOR SAVING NASA MONEY : To read a “feel good” story about Goddard employee Matthew Ritsko winning the 2011 Presidential SAVE Award, just go to http://www.nasa.gov/topics/people/features/ritsko-save.html.