Chandrasekhar, known to the world as Chandra, which means ``moon'' or ``luminous'' in Sanskrit, was a popular entry in a recent NASA contest to name the spacecraft. The contest drew more than six thousand entries from fifty states and sixty-one countries. The co-winners were Tyrel Johnson, a tenth grade student at Priest River Lamanna High School in Priest River, Idaho, and Jatila van der Veen, a physics and astronomy teacher at Adolfo Camarillo High School in Camarillo, California. They will receive a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to view the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a prize donated by TRW.
Widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the 20th century, Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for his theoretical studies of physical processes important to the structure and evolution of stars. He and his wife immigrated from India to the U.S. in 1935. Chandrasekhar served on the faculty of the University of Chicago until his death in 1995.
Members of the contest's final selection committee were Timothy Hannemann, executive vice president and general manager, TRW Space & Electronics Group; the late CNN correspondent John Holliman; former Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall, professor of aeronautics at MIT; Charles Petit, senior writer for U.S. News & World Report; Sidney Wolff, Director, National Optical Astronomy Observatories; Martin Weisskopf, AXAF project scientist, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL.; and Harvey Tananbaum, director of the AXAF Science Center (ASC), Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory Center (CXC), formerly the ASC, will control science and flight operations of the Chandra X-ray Observatory for NASA from Cambridge, Mass.
``Chandra is a highly appropriate name,'' said Harvey Tananbaum, Director of the CXC. ``Throughout his life Chandra worked tirelessly and with great precision to further our understanding of the universe. These same qualities characterize the many individuals who have devoted much of their careers to building this premier x-ray observatory.''
For more information about the name contest, Chandra, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory see http://chandra.harvard.edu
- Karen Tucker