EDUCATION: B.S., Engineering Physics, 1959, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT Ph.D., Astro-Geophysics, 1965, University of Colorado. Thesis: X-Radiation of the Sun".
EXPERIENCE: Dr. Acton was a Payload Specialist on STS-51-F in 1985. He thereafter oversaw the solar physics group at Montana State University, which carried on an active research program under NASA support. They were actively involved in day-to-day operation and scientific utilization of the Japan/US/UK Yohkoh mission for studies of high-energy solar physics. This satellite carried a solar x-ray telescope, prepared under the leadership of Dr. Acton, for the study of high-energy processes, such as solar flares, on the sun. The primary emission of the extremely hot outer atmosphere of the sun, the solar corona, is at x-ray wavelengths and the extended duration, high resolution x-ray imagery from Yohkoh were analyzed in an effort to learn why the sun has a corona at all and why it varies in intensity so strongly in response to the 11 year sunspot cycle.
Dr. Acton was also a co-investigator on the NASA Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) mission which was launched in 1998. This battery of 4 ultraviolet telescopes provided new and detailed observations of the thin and dynamic interface region at the base of the corona. This region is also the source of much of the ionizing radiation that determines the properties of the upper atmosphere of the earth such as the ionosphere and ozone layer.
AWARDS AND HONORS: Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, 1993. 100 Centennial Alumni, Montana State University, 1993. NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, 1993. Fellow of Am. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, 1989. Honorary Doctor of Science from Montana State University, 1988. Robert E. Gross Award for Technical Excellence, Lockheed Corp, 1988. National Advisory Board, Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT, 1987. Spaceflight Achievement award of American Astronautical Society, 1986.
Manned seven crew. At 5 minutes, 45 seconds into ascent the number one engine shut down prematurely and an abort to orbit was declared. Despite the anomaly the mission continued. Launched PDP; carried Spacelab 2. Payloads: Spacelab-2 with 13 experiments, Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX), Protein Crystal Growth (PCG). The flight crew was divided into a red and blue team. Each team worked 12-hour shifts for 24-hour-a-day operation.