X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission - Newton

Program Element / Activity Title:
X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission - Newton
E/PO Project Name:
X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission - Newton
Contact Information:
Short Description:

Synergistically combining resources from several other high-energy X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy missions, the XMM-Newton E/PO program from 2003-2010 was aligned with all three of NASA’s Education Outcomes. Outcome 1: We have contributed to the development of the STEM workforce by working with dozens of students at the community college and university levels in partnership with SSU’s new MESA Engineering program and similar programs at other local community colleges. We have also engaged dozens of high school and college students in authentic XMM-inspired research experiences through our Global Telescope Network. Outcome 2: We have attracted and worked to retain hundreds of underserved students in STEM disciplines through after-school programs in partnership with local schools, where we use NASA-approved products to enhance science and technology education. We have also trained thousands of K-12 teachers with our highly popular and NASA-approved formal educational products. Outcome 3: We have built strategic partnerships with informal education providers to promote STEM literacy and awareness of NASA’s mission, inspiring tens of thousands of the public and young people through multi-media presentations, websites and the Night Sky Network and bringing exciting XMM-Newton mission science to diverse audiences.

Beginning in 2010, due to significant reductions in the XMM-Newton E/PO program budget, we have chosen to strategically focus our efforts on highly-leveraged and demonstrably successful activities, including the wide-reaching Astrophysics Educator Ambassador program, and our popular website Epo’s Chronicles. We have also continued to make major contributions working collaboratively through the Astrophysics Science Education and Public Outreach Forum (SEPOF) on identified high-need activities: the on-line educator professional development course “NASA’s Multiwavelength Universe” and the Astro 4 Girls program.

Awards Received:

Lynn Cominsky was named CSWP Physicist of the Month for September, 2012 by the American Physical Society.


Cominsky received an award from the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, which presents awards “Women Honoring Women” as part of Women’s History Month (which was, in fact, started in Sonoma County). “The "Women Honoring Women" award is given to outstanding women of the community who have made great efforts for the enhancement and well-being of women and girls.” Cominsky was honored for her “continuing work for the education of women and girls in the field of Science.’ Read more about it: http://www.sonoma.edu/workplace/2013/03/19/cominsky.html


In 2009, Cominsky was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (Education division) “For her seminal work to promote student and teacher education using NASA missions as inspiration.”


Lynn Cominsky was named a Fellow of the AAAS (announced on November 30, Astronomy division) for “her work in outreach for X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy (NuSTAR, Fermi, Swift and XMM) and for inspiring her undergraduate students at Sonoma State University.”

2014 Women in Aerospace "Aerospace Awareness" award to Dr. Lynn Cominsky
" for her excellent leadership and sustained dedication to aerospace
education and for her tenacious advocacy for girls and young women in
Audience Metrics
Who is the primary audience of your program element / activity?:
Who is the secondary audience of your program element / activity?:
National Priorities and Coordination Approaches as Articulated in CoSTEM:
  • Improve STEM Instruction
  • Increase and Sustain Youth and Public Engagement in STEM
  • Enhance STEM Experience of Undergraduate Students
What are the main impacts of your effort to date and how do they correlate to the project's goals and objectives:
Impact evidence:

Educator Ambassador Program: The successful EA training events held every other year have developed a cohort of master teachers that are extremely successful trainers of other teachers. We have evaluations of all five EA training events held since 2002; each year we have done a better job in training these outstanding educators. In turn, the results of their evaluations done by the teachers that they are training, have also improved steadily.
Astro 4 Girls 2013: The turnout of 158 attendees to this day-long event in Butler, MO was much greater than expected. As one Educator Ambassador wrote: “What I find most amazing was how the community came together to support this event. With the NASA name recognition and the idea that the community had been invited to participate in this program it was amazing what happened. Normally this area does little to support anything other than the high school football teams. Those who do not are silent for the most part, thinking they are a minority. Those silent people seemed to come out of the woodwork for this event to either help or bring their children to the event. The man that donated the printing of our posters and had also donated $200 to the library to help with consumables for the event came in late last week and gave the librarian 20 mp3 players to augment the door prizes for the kids. There was significant newspaper and radio station support. Even the police department helped out by donating a roll of yellow police tape so we could rope off areas in the building that contained tools and equipment. The school donated funds to help with consumables and gave us use of the building. Our concerns about having enough volunteers were for naught - we had lots of enthusiastic, quality volunteers. The librarian has indicated that there has never been community support for anything at the library like there was for this event.”