Gabriele L. Betancourt-Martinez


I am working with Dr. Scott Porter and others in the X-ray Microcalorimeter Group at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. X-ray microcalorimeters are powerful tools for astrophysical and laboratory spectroscopy, due to their high spectral resolution, high quantum efficiency, and large bandwidth. A microcalorimeter determines the energy of an incident X-ray photon by measuring the temperature change of the detector after the X-ray is absorbed. It consists of a photon absorber that is linked to a thermistor, both of which are linked to a heat sink kept at about 50 mK. My work involves testing the performance and uniformity of newly fabricated detectors, as well as working towards a new kilopixel Transition-Edge Sensor microcalorimeter array that will be delivered to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and used for laboratory astrophysics experiments.

I am also interested in a process called charge exchange. Charge exchange occurs widely throughout the solar system, and is a significant contaminating foreground to all observations from low-Earth orbit. Theoretical models of charge exchange spectra do not always accurately describe observations, however. To this end, we perform laboratory charge exchange experiments with the Electron Beam Ion Trap facility at LLNL, using the EBIT Calorimeter Spectrometer. Our goal is to use this laboratory data to benchmark and improve models.

Besides research, I am involved with the Astronomy Gentleladies Network (AGN), a mentoring organization which aims to support undergraduate women studying astronomy. I am a co-organizer for the Career Paths Seminar, a seminar where invited guests with astronomy or physics backgrounds speak about their career trajectory to non-academic positions. We have recently expanded the Seminar to include workshops on helpful skills and tools for astronomers. I also try and keep a toe in the world of space policy; I am a correspondent for If I’m not in the lab, you might find me in a dance or yoga studio.

You can find my CV here: Betancourt_CV_2015.pdf

About Me

I am a fourth year graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park Department of Astronomy.


UMD Office: PSC 1260

UMD Office Phone: (301) 405-1566

NASA/GSFC Office: Building 34, room S396

NASA/GSFC Office Phone: (301) 286-2082

Hawaii, USA

Toulouse, France

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Bodrum, Turkey