The Ohio State University at Newark

Ohio State Newark Assistant Professor Excited about NASA Astronaut Job Postings

NEWARK, Ohio, November 12, 2015 — News of some job postings in the very near future has Ohio State Newark Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor Michael Stamatikos over the moon about the possibilities for his students. NASA announced this week that it plans to post openings for new astronauts in December. Stamatikos has been affiliated with NASA since 2006, when he was selected as a NASA postdoctoral fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA-GSFC), which is located near Washington, D.C. He’s maintained his affiliation with NASA-GSFC as an off-site astrophysicist, while supporting the Swift and Fermi satellite missions.

At Ohio State Newark, Stamatikos leads research in high-energy particle astrophysics featuring gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) - transient beacons of high-energy electromagnetic radiation that ultimately result in one of Nature’s most enigmatic creations: a black hole.

“The fact that NASA is recruiting new astronauts is excellent news,” said Stamatikos. “It will hopefully provide a much needed infusion of public confidence in our space program, as well as a target for the next generation of explorers.”

According to the New York Times, the annual salary ranges from $66,026 to $144,566. The application deadline will be in February, with the final selection in May 2017. This is the first call for new astronauts in four years. Stamatikos believes this class of astronauts will be very involved in exploring deep space.

“The astronauts of the 21st century will fly a new NASA spacecraft called the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). It is designed for the human exploration of deep space,” said Stamatikos. “That will usher in a new ‘Apollo-like’ era. Potential deep space human exploration targets include: returning to the Moon, a near-Earth asteroid and Mars.”

Members of that next generation of astronauts could be in Stamatikos’ classroom. One of the requirements listed in the NASA job posting is that applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or mathematics.

“Students can certainly start their bachelor’s degree at Ohio State Newark and finish in Columbus, thus qualifying them with regards to the academic requirements,” said Stamatikos. “Incidentally, I’m teaching an astronomy course called ‘Cosmology – The History of the Universe’ (ASTRON 1143) for the first time at Ohio State Newark in the spring 2016 semester, which gives an overview of the Cosmos. It would be very useful for anyone enthusiastic about space.”

NASA currently has 47 astronauts. It is a small group, and the odds of being selected to become a NASA astronaut are slim. However, Stamatikos said he always encourages students to pursue becoming an astronaut and/or working for NASA.

“I constantly try to enhance the students’ classroom experience by sharing with them anecdotes from my professional experience and research. I’ve also had several students, at all levels, working with me on research based upon NASA data,” said Stamatikos. “As Michelangelo once said, ‘The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.’”

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