Headshot of Andy Ptak standing in front of Arp273 - The Rose Galaxies

Dr. Andrew Ptak

Deputy Operations Project Scientist

Dr. Andrew Ptak is the Hubble Space Telescope deputy operations project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. He helps provide oversight for Hubble operations and assists in monitoring and reviewing Hubble data analysis software. Ptak takes part in guest observer reviews ― during which scientists outside the Hubble program propose for and are awarded time to use Hubble ― and works closely with the Hubble Fellowship Program and grants administration, which award grants to the scientific community in order to support observations.

Ptak began his career as a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and then moved to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) as a research scientist, focusing on starburst galaxies and the exotic ultraluminous X-ray objects (ULXs) they contain, and investigating whether they are intermediate-mass black holes. In 2010 he moved to Goddard as a staff scientist. In 2015, he became technical officer for the GSFC-JHU Cooperative Agreement ― a job he still holds today ― helping to facilitate the funding of graduate students, postdocs, and research scientists at JHU who work with projects at Goddard, and assisting in planning an annual workshop day with the two groups. He is also the deputy study scientist for the NASA contribution to the European Space Agency’s x-ray mission Athena, slated to launch in 2033.

Previously, Ptak was the guest observer program lead and then a mission scientist for NuSTAR ― an astrophysics mission that studies black holes, supernova remnants, and collapsed stars ― from 2014 to 2020. He was responsible for budget aspects and arranging for ground station passes to ensure that data was regularly transmitted to Earth. He briefly served as acting deputy director of astrophysics at Goddard from November 2018 to March 2019, and continues to act as the coordination lead for the astrophysics guest observer programs.

Ptak grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and kayaking with his wife, Eileen, and three children.

Headshot of Andy Ptak standing in front of Arp273 - The Rose Galaxies
Hubble Deputy Operations Project Scientist Dr. Andrew Ptak
NASA/Rob Andreoli