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Professor Roy Torbert Appointed to NASA Advisory Council

By David Sims, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
July 8, 2009

UNH physics professor Roy Torbert has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a new member of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).

Torbert, currently interim director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS), will join the 35-member council that provides the NASA administrator with counsel and advice on programs and issues of importance to the agency.

The NAC consists of six committees – aeronautics, audit and finance, exploration, human capital, science, and space operations. Torbert will serve on the science committee. The council deliberates on topics raised by each committee in public sessions and presents any findings and recommendations to the NASA administrator on a quarterly basis.

NASA has a long tradition of turning to accomplished citizens for advice and guidance on major program and policy issues before the agency. The tradition originates with NASA's predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was established in 1915. NASA was created in 1958.

Torbert has been a faculty member at UNH since 1989 and directed the UNH Space Science Center at EOS from 2000 to 2008. Prior to that, he served as dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences for five years. His research interests include the areas of space plasma and magnetospheric physics.

He has served as principal investigator on several scientific instruments for NASA and is currently a lead investigator in an upcoming strategic mission for NASA’s Heliophysics Division - the Magnetospheric MultiScale mission (MMS). The $61 million awarded to UNH from NASA for the mission represents the single largest research grant in the university's history.

As part of an international team from 12 institutes, space scientists at EOS will construct instruments for MMS’s four identical solar-terrestrial probes, which will study little-understood, fundamental processes in the Earth's magnetosphere - the magnetic shield that protects the Earth from solar and cosmic radiation. Launch is slated for 2014.

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