Space Archive, Supernova Named in Honor of Maryland Senator

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Both one of the world’s largest astronomy archives and a supernova have been named in honor of the US Senator currently serving as the chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, various media outlets have reported.

According to a Thursday UPI article, a facility which is home to astronomical observations of various stars, planets, and galaxies originating from the Hubble Space Telescope and 15 other NASA space science missions will be named the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) in honor of the Senator, a Democrat from Maryland.

“In celebration of Sen. 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,” Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the organization which maintains the archives, said in a statement.

MAST is currently home to an estimated 200 terabytes of data, which according to STScI is nearly the same amount of information contained in the U.S. Library of Congress. Among the content housed there are all of NASA’s optical and ultraviolet light observations from the past three decades, added

Furthermore, an exploding star first spotted by the Hubble back on January 25, has also been named for the Maryland Senator. The newly christened Supernova Mikulski, which is 7.4 billion light years away, has a mass eight times that of our Sun, according to an STScI press release. The star was named by Nobel Laureate Dr. Adam Riess and a team of supernova seekers that is currently assisting him.

“I’m humbled and honored to be recognized by our nation’s top scientists and innovators as a fighter for science and research,” Mikulski said in a statement. “I believe in American exceptionalism; not just because we say we are, but because of our investment in innovation. Through innovation, America has led the way in scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, which inspire future scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.”

“I am proud to be the namesake of the archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is the enduring legacy of Hubble, and will allow us to peer even further into the origins of the universe after the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope,” she added.

Image 1: This is a view of the many computers that are part of the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), located at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. The archive is named in honor of the United States Senator from Maryland for her career-long achievements and for becoming the longest-serving woman in U.S. Congressional history. MAST is NASA’s repository for all of its optical and ultraviolet-light observations, some of which date to the early 1970s. The archive holds data from 16 NASA telescopes, including current missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Senator Mikulski is at picture center, STScI Director Matt Mountain at her right, and STScI Deputy Director Kathryn Flanagan at her left. The plaque is a photo of Supernova Milkuski, an exploding star that the Hubble Space Telescope spotted on Jan. 25, 2012. It was named in honor of the Senator by Nobel Laureate Adam Riess and the supernova search team with which he is currently working. Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, and J. Coyle (Coyle Studios)

Image 2: Supernova Mikulski. Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Faber (UCSC), A. Riess (JHU/STScI), S. Rodney (JHU), and the CANDELS team