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Celestial Salute to U.S. Senator Mikulski: Supernova, Astronomy Archive

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Riess (JHU and STScI

Talk about senatorial splendor!

You couldn’t do any better given a new honor that recognizes United States Senator from Maryland, Barbara A. Mikulski.

One of the world’s largest astronomy archives has been named in her honor.

Called MAST, for the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, the huge database contains astronomical observations from 16 NASA space astronomy missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope.

“In celebration of Senator Mikulski’s career-long achievements, and particularly this year, becoming the longest-serving woman in U.S. Congressional history, we sought NASA’s permission to establish the Senator’s permanent legacy to science by naming the optical and ultraviolet data archive housed here at the Institute in her honor,” said Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland.

MAST is NASA’s repository for all of its optical and ultraviolet-light observations, some of which date to the early 1970s.

The archive contains information from the golden age of astronomy, spanning the past three decades.

An armada of space telescopes has surveyed the universe across a broad spectrum of energies. Data from such groundbreaking missions as the planet-hunting Kepler Observatory and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer are part of the MAST archive.

To further honor Senator Mikulski, an exploding star that the Hubble Space Telescope spotted on Jan. 25, 2012, has been named Supernova Mikulski by Nobel Laureate Adam Riess and the supernova search team with which he is currently working.

The supernova, which lies 7.4 billion light-years away, is the titanic detonation of a star more than eight times our Sun’s mass.

For images, video, and more information about MAST and Supernova Mikulski, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news/2012/17

By Leonard David

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