Dr. Sten Odenwald

Director of STEM Resource Development National Institute of Aerospace

Other biographies and interviews.

Draft Bio on Wikipedia

NASA-Quest Program


NASA Press Release

Solar System Exploration Team

I received my Ph.D in astronomy from Harvard University in 1982 and since then I have been employed by companies that work for NASA, all located in the greater Washington, D.C. area. I am very active in education for NASA, while conducting active research programs in cosmology and space weather. I am also the co-Editor of the Encyclopedia of the Universe.

In the 1980's, my dream as for many young astronomers, was to get a tenured position in astronomy at some college or university, but that option never materialized for me after applying to over 50 institutions and in some cases being one of 700 to apply for the same position.

I have since turned my creative energies in education toward working with NASA to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astronauts, and to writing articles for magazines such as "Astronomy" and "Sky and Telescope." My most recent article 'What if String Theory is Wrong?" appeared in the February, 2007 issue of Astronomy. An article ' Bracing for a Solar Superstorm ' appears in the August 2008 issue of Scientific American. Also, in 2013 a second article 'String Theory - what it tells us about the universe' appeared in Astronomy magazine.

I have won a number of awards from NASA, and from the American Astronomical Society for my education work. I received the NASA 'Excellence in Outreach' award in 1999 from the Goddard Space Flight Center, along with awards for my education and TV work for NASA since 2000. You may find my award-winning web site The Astronomy Cafe a fun place to visit for more about a career in astronomy, plus my 3001-question FAQ archive on space and astronomy from A to Z.

In the recent past, I have worked, and led, various NASA education programs for satellite missions such as IMAGE and Hinode. I am also involved with the NASA Office of Space Science 'Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum' where I develop new NASA resources in solar-terrestrial science education, and help NASA work with teachers at national conventions and workshops across the country.

Currently, I am actively involved in mathematics education, and was the developer and Director of NASA's SpaceMath@NASA resource for educators and students. This website provides real-world math problems for grades 3-12 and beyond ,which show how mathematics is used in astronomical research. Examples drawn from press releases include fractions, percentages and scientific notation, all the way through advanced algebra and calculus. Over 700 worked problems and 30 resource guide were created by me to stimulate mathematical thinking on very cool topics in space science.

I am also working in the area of space weather research, where I have been creating models of what happens with major solar storms affect our satellites in space. My latest paper in this area was published in 2007 in the Journal of Space Weather, "Forecasting the impact of an 1859-caliber superstorm on geosynchronous Earth- orbiting satellites: Transponder resources" It shows that a major solar storm could cost us over $30 billion in lost revenue from commercial geosynchronous satellites alone.


1975 ----UC Berkeley: "Most Outstanding Undergraduate in Astronomy"
1975 ----Smithsonian Pre-doctoral Fellowship (Three years)
1991 ----BDM, Science Writer's Award for NASA's "Space Astronomy Update"
1994 ----COBE Working Group Award for Outstanding Service
1995 ----YAHOO Top Site of the Week: 'The Astronomy Cafe'
1996 ----Macmillan Top 5 % of the Web: 'The Astronomy Cafe'
1998 ----AAAS Science NetLinks Web Award for excellence in content.
1999 ---- NASA Goddard Award of Excellence in Outreach
1999 ----Crystal Award for best educational Video 'Blackout!'
1999 ----Telly Award for best educational video, "Blackout!"
2000 ----AAS Solar Physics Division Popular Science Writing Award
2001 ----Raytheon ITSS, Education and Public Outreach Award
2002 ----Emmy Award for Educational TV Program - NASA/CONNECT
2003 ----Telly Award for Educational TV Program - NASA/CONNECT
2004 ----Emmy Award for Educational TV Program 'Transit of Venus' NASA/CONNECT
2005 ----NASA Education Group Achievement Award 'Transit of Venus'
2006 ----Excellence in Outreach Award - Eclipse 2006: In a Different Light'
2013 ----NASA Education Group Achievement Award 'Transit of Venus'


My Educational Pedigree

Ph.D in Astronomy from Harvard University, 1982
A.M in Astronomy from Harvard University, 1976
A.B in Astronomy from U.C. Berkeley, 1975
My Ph.D Dissertation: A Far-Infrared Survey of the Galactic Center

Teaching Experience:

Teaching Fellow............Harvard University...................1976-1982
Instructor.................Harvard University...................1978-1980
Instructor..................Tufts University......................1978
Instructor.........Cambridge Center for Adult Education.........1977-1980
Instructor.........Smithsonian Resident Associates Program......1986-1991
Shapley Lecture........American Astronomical Society............1993- current

Technical Publications in Astronomy

"Present and Past Death-Rates for Globular Clusters" A.P. Lightman, W.H. Press, S.F. Odenwald The Astrophysical Journal, Vol.219, pg. 629.

"Far-Infrared Sources in the Vicinity of the Supernova Remnant W- 28" S. Odenwald, K. Shivanandan, G. Fazio, T. Rengarajan, B. McBreen, M. Campbell, H. Moseley, The Astrophysical Journal, v. 279, p. 162.

"A Far-Infrared Survey of the Galactic Center" S. Odenwald, G. Fazio The Astrophysical Journal, v. 283, p. 601.

"Observations of the Radio Noise Background in the Frequency Range 150 - 180 kHz" S. H. Knowles, F. J. Kelly, S. Odenwald, B. Waltman IES Symposium 1984, Alexandria, Va.

"Focal Plane Instrumentation for a 102-cm, Balloon Borne Infrared Telescope" K. Shivanandan, S. Odenwald, P. Schwartz, G. G. Fazio, H. Moseley. Technical Digest of the 9th International Conference on Infrared and Millimeter Waves, Osaka, Japan, 22-26 Oct. 1984.

"A Search for Infrared Excesses in G-Type Stars" S. Odenwald Proceedings of the First IRAS Symposium Light on Dark Matter

"Active Star Formation in NGC-2264" P. Schwartz, H. Thronson Jr., S.F. Odenwald, W. Glaccum, R. Loewenstein, G. Wolf The Astrophysical Journal,v. 292, 231.

"Far-Infrared Observations of the Molecular Cloud Near IC-443. ABS S. Odenwald, K. Shivanandan The Astrophysical Journal, v. 292, 460.

"Far-Infrared Observations of OB Stars in the Cygnus-X Region : DR-6, 7 and 22." S. Odenwald, M. Campbell, K. Shivanandan, G. Fazio, P. Schwarz and H. Moseley. The Astrophysical Journal v. 306, 122.

"Infrared Emission from G-Type Stars " S. Odenwald The Astrophysical Journal v. 307, 711

"CO and Far-IR Observations of Bright Spiral Galaxies in the Ursa Major I(S) Cluster" ABS S. Odenwald. The Astrophysical Journal v. 310, 86

"He3 Photometer System for Millimeter Wave Astronomy" K. Shivanandan, P. Schwartz, S. Odenwald and H. Moseley International Journal of IR and MM Waves 987, v. 8, No. 1.

"Hydrodynamic Phenomena in the Draco Molecular Cloud" ABS S. Odenwald, L.J Rickard The Astrophysical Journal, v. 318, 702

"VLA Observations of a Complete Sample of Sources from the S-5 Catalogue" H. Kuhr, K. Johnston, S. F. Odenwald, Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement, v. 71, 493.

"Far-IR and Optical Studies of Comet-like Clouds: Mach Cones and Hydrodynamics?" S. Odenwald The Astrophysical Journal, v. 325, 320.

"VLA Observations of Far-IR Sources in the Galactic Center" S. Odenwald IAU Symposium 136: The Galactic Center, p. 205.

"DR-15 and DR-20: Far-Infrared and Radio Observations of Young B-star Nurseries" ABS S. Odenwald, M. Campbell, K. Shivanandan, G. Fazio, P. Schwartz and H. Moseley The Astronomical Journal, v. 99, 288.

"An IRAS Survey of Young Stellar Objects Towards the Cygnus-X Region" S. F. Odenwald The Astronomical Journal, v. 97, 801.

"The Origin of the Universe: Cosmogenesis Ex Nihilo" S. F. Odenwald Zygon, Vol. 25, No. 1, pg. 25.

"Five Unusual Compact CO Sources in the Cygnus-X Region" ABS S.F. Odenwald and P.R. Schwartz The Astrophysical Journal Letters, v. 345, L47.

"A New Infrared Camera for Astronomical Observations at 10 and 20 microns" ABS S.F. Odenwald, K. Shivanandan and H. Thronson Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific February, 1992.

"G110-13: A Low Mass Star Forming Region at High Galactic Latitude" ABS The Astrophysical Journal, September 20, 1992

"A CO Survey of IRAS-detected Young Stellar Objects Towards the Cygnus-X Region" ABS S.F. Odenwald and P.R. Schwartz The Astrophysical Journal, February 1991

"G0.281-0.47: A Crab-like SNR Towards the Galactic Center" ABS S.F. Odenwald and F. Yusef-Zadeh The Astrophysical Journal Letters,

"A Program for Integrating the HST Guide Star Catalog with Commonly Used Astronomical Databases" S.F. Odenwald Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Science with the Hubble Space Telescope, June 17-24, Sardinia Italy.

" The Cygnus-X Region: An IRAS View" Proceedings of the Back to the Galaxy Conference, Univ. of Maryland, October 12-14, 1992.

"Clustering of the Diffuse Infrared Light from the COBE DIRBE maps, I. C (O) and limits on the near-IR background," A. Kashlinsky, J.C. Mather, S. Odenwald, M.G. Hauser, The Astrophysical Journal, 470, 681, 1996

"Clustering of the diffuse infrared light from the COBE DIRBE maps.II. An all sky survey of C(0)", Kashlinsky,A., Mather,J. and Odenwald, S., The Astrophysical Journal(Letters),473, L9.

"A COBE/DIRBE Survey of Nearby Galaxies", S. Odenwald, J. Newmark and G. Smoot, The Astrophysical Journal, 1998, 500, 554.

"Clustering of the diffuse infrared light from the COBE/DIRBE maps. III. Power spectrum analysis and possible detection of cosmic infrared background fluctuations" Kashlinsky,A., and Odenwald, S. 2000, Ap.J. v. 528, 74.

"Detection of Small-Scale Fluctuations in the Near-IR Cosmic Infrared Background from Long-exposure 2MASS fields", 2002 Kashlinsky, A., Odenwald, S., Mather, J., Skrutskie, M. and Cutri, R., ApJ(Letters) 579, L53.

"Analysis of the Diffuse Near-Infrared Emission from 2MASS Deep Integration Data: Foregrounds Versus Cosmic Infrared Background", Odenwald, S., Kashlinsky, A, Mather, J., Skrutskie, M. and Cutri, A. 2003, ApJ 583, p. 535.

"Forecasting the Impact of an 1859-Calibre Superstorm on Satellite Resources', Odenwald ,S., Green, J. and Taylor, W., 2006, Advances in Space Research, 38, p.280-297.

"Eyewitness Accounts of the 1859 Superstorm', Green, J., Boardsen, S. and Odenwald, S., 2006, Advances in Space Research, 38, p.145-154.

"Forecasting the impact of an 1859-caliber superstorm on geosynchronous Earth- orbiting satellites: Transponder resources", Odenwald, S. F., and J. L. Green, 2007, Space Weather, 5, S06002, doi:10.1029/2006SW000262.

"Newspaper Reporting of Space Weather: The end of a Golden Era", 2007, Odenwald ,S.F., Journal of Space Weather, (Submitted)

"Statistical Estimates of Anomaly Rates for Geostationary Satellites", 2007 ,Odenwald ,S.F., Journal of Space Weather, (In Progress).


" The Astronomy Cafe: 365 questions and answers from Ask the Astronomer, W.H. Freeman, May, 1998.

" Exploring the Universe...Technical Consultant for Time/Life...1988

" The 23rd Cycle:Learning to live with a stormy star, Odenwald, S. 2001 Univ. Columbia Press.

" Patterns in the Void: Why nothing is important, S. Odenwald, 2002, (Westview Press: Boulder CO)

" Back to the Astronomy Cafe, 2003, (Westview Press: Boulder)

" Concepts in Space Science, 2002, (Universities Press: ISRO)

" Stepping Through the Stargate, 2004, (Benbella Books, Texas)

"Heliophysics II Space Storms and Radiation: Causes and Effects, 2008, K. Schrijver and G. Siscoe, eds., (Elsever Press)

"NASA Press Releases: Exploring the mathematics behind the science." in 'The International Handbook of Innovation Education', ed. Dr. Larisa Shavinina (Taylor & Francis/Routledge 2012)

Articles in Non-Technical Magazines and Newspapers

The Decay of the False Vacuum ----Astronomy, November, 1983, pg. 66.

The Planck Era ----Astronomy, March 1984, p. 66.

Astronomical Ballooning ----Astronomy, August 1984, p. 6

Does Space Have More Than 3 Dimensions? ----Astronomy, November 1984, p. 67.

A Quickie Guide to Analyzing Infrared Data ----Astronomy, February 1985.

Astronomical Ballooning : The Road to Discovery. ----Astronomy, August 1985.

Beyond the Big Bang ----Astronomy May 1987, pg. 90.

Night Views Astronomy, -----August 1991

What if String Theory is Wrong? ----Astronomy, February, 2007

The Sun - An Introduction ----Astronomy, November 2007

Turning Pro: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" ----Sky and Telescope, February, 1989

The Cosmological Constant: 70 Years of an Enigma" ----Sky and Telescope, April 1991

The Cosmological Redshift Explained" ----Sky and Telescope, February, 1993

The Final Frontier of Spacetime" ----Sky and Telescope, December, 1995

Solar Storms - The Invisible Menace" ----Sky and Telescope, March 1998.

Waiting for the Big One ----Sky and Telescope, July 2007.

"The Cosmological Constant" ----Newton, (in Japanese) December, 1991

"The Big Bang was NOT an Explosion" ----The Washington Post, May 16, 1997.

Solar Storms: The hidden menace ----The Washington Post, March 10, 1998

What if String Theory is Wrong? ----Astronomy, (2/2007)

Waiting for the Big One ----- Sky and Telescope, (7/2007).

Bracing for a Solar Superstorm ----- Scientific American, (8,2008)

The Coming Solar Superstorm------Astronomy, (9/2008)

The Sun - An Introduction ---- Astronomy, (11/2008)

String Theory -----Astronomy, (4/2013)

NASA Education Publications

"Highlights: The Supporting Research and Technology Program Annual Report", 2003. NASA Headquarters/OSS (NP-2003-5-308-HQ)

"Space Weather", 2002, Educational CDROM

"Space Weather", 2001, NASA Lithograph Set, (LG-2001-9-034-GSFC)

"IMAGE: Revealing the Impacts of Invisible Solar Storms", 2001, NASA Lithograph (LG-2001-10-035-GSFC)

"Solar Storms and You", 2000, (EG-2000-03-002-GSFC)

"Are You Ready for Solar Max?", 2000, (EB-2000-02-005-GSFC)

"Hubble Space Telescope Slide Set", 1991, NASA/Office of Space Science

"Space Mathematics Collected Problems (2006-2013) http://tinyurl.com/bva8nzq

"Image Scaling (2008) http://tinyurl.com/bnzz9oo

"Black Hole Math (2009) http://tinyurl.com/bqj3zwz

"Magnetic Math (2009) http://tinyurl.com/cxv8ztt

"Earth Math (2009) http://tinyurl.com/cvgm96v

"Electromagnetic Math (2010) http://tinyurl.com/bp77prp

"Space Weather Math (2010) http://tinyurl.com/cnz9lln

"Transit Math (2010) http://tinyurl.com/bprf7nj

"Algebra 2 (2010) http://tinyurl.com/chzzmmz

"Remote Sensing Math (2011) http://tinyurl.com/bt9vqlx

"Astrobiology Math (2011) http://tinyurl.com/c7mh7q4

"Radiation Math (2011) http://tinyurl.com/c8wdcf3

"Solar Math (2012) http://tinyurl.com/c4vyv5b

"Lunar Math(2012) http://tinyurl.com/bqlquqj

"Mars Math (2012) http://tinyurl.com/c86g3yh

"Exploring the Lunar Surface (2013) http://tinyurl.com/dylrrfn

"Exploring Planetary Moons (2013) http://tinyurl.com/cwlwyuv

"Exploring Stars in the Milky Way (2013) http://tinyurl.com/cmcpj6v

Exploring the Milky Way (2013) http://tinyurl.com/bsr3dwd

TV Appearances:

" Blackout!, NASA Education Video, September 1998.
" NASA/CONNECT 'Having a Solar Blast' NASA TV, March 20, 2002.
" NASA/CONNECT 'Dancing in the Night Sky', NASA TV, April 10, 2003
" NASA 'Destination:Tomorrow', Program 10, February 20, 2003
" KidzOnline Web Broadcast of Transit of Venus, February 19, 2004
" NASA/CONNECT 'The Transit of Venus', NASA TV, March 19, 2004
" NASA: Live 'The Transit of Venus', NASA TV, April 15, 2004
" NASA/CONNECT 'Ancient Observatories', March 21, 2005
" NASA Why Files 'The Case of the Technical Knock-out', April 21, 2005
" NASA/CONNECT 'Eclipse 2006: In a Different Light', March 21,2006

YouTube Programs:

" Solar Storms - A talk with astronomer Sten Odenwald, November 2008.

" Solar Storms and the Hinode Satellite, December 2008.

" Solar Storms and the 1989 Blackout, March 2009.

" Library of Congress:The Transit of Venus 2012, May 2012.

Radio Appearances:

" 'Earth and Sky Radio', Solar Superstorms, February 18, 2006
" 'Earth and Sky Radio', Transits and Exoplanets, June 8, 2004.
" 'Earth and Sky Radio' The Transit of Venus, June 4, 2004
" 'Let's Talk Stars', KTKT-Tucson, David Levy, April 13, 2004
" 'Let's Talk Stars', KTKT-Tucson, David Levy, September 24, 2002
" 'Sky Tour' , WHYY-NPR Philadelphia, June 20, 2002
" 'Earth and Sky Radio', Deborah Byrd, October 27, 2001
" 'Dreamland' , Whitley Streaber, April 8, 2001
" 'The Todd Mundt Show', NPR January 18, 2001
" 'Public Impact' , NPR, July 13, 1998

Internet Education Activities:

The Astronomy Cafe (http://www.astronomycafe.net) An award winning web site for people and students interested in astronomy. Articles about what professional astronomy is like, plus a 3001 FAQ archive: the largest on the internet. Rated as one of the Top 5% web sites, and a well known resource for over 300,000 visitors. 6 million 'hits' since August 1995.

NASA's IMAGE/POETRY (http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry) education and public outreach web site. A collection of resources for teachers in the area of space physics, the sun-earth interactions, with a 1600+ FAQ archive that receives 40 new questions each day, and answered by 'Ask the Space Scientist'. Over 500,000 hits per month since 1996.

Space Weather (http://www.solarstorms.org) This is the most complete and authoritative web resource on the technological and human impacts of solar storms and space weather.

I am the Education and Public Outreach manager for NASA/Solar-B EIS instrument (http://solarb.msfc.nasa.gov)

Consultant and writer for Library of Congress 'I Hear America Singing' web site on the Transit of Venus ( http://www.loc.gov/rr/perform/ihas/)

Coordinator of the NASA/THEMIS ground-based student magnetometer array 'Geomagnetic Event Observation Network' (GEON) (http://ds9.ssl.berkeley.edu/themis/classroom.)

Lead author and science consultant for the NASA, Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (SECEF) web site (http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov), and the Technology Through Time resource for teachers (http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2007/locations/index.php)

At the NASA Space Math website, also create weekly math problems for students and teachers that emphasize space science and astronomy themes at NASA (http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov)

I am also the co-Editor of the Digital Universe Wikipedia