Ira Thorpe (@IraThorpe) is an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Ira’s research focus is the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a space-based observatory of gravitational waves that will extend our capabilities in this exciting new area of astrophysics. Sometimes called the “Hubble for Gravitational Waves”, LISA will observe merging massive black holes in the early universe, the capture of compact objects by massive black holes, millions of close compact binaries in the Milky Way, and perhaps signals that are entirely unexpected. LISA was recently approved as a new mission by the European Space Agency and is expected to have a significant NASA contribution. Ira serves as the lead US scientist for the NASA effort.
Born and raised in the mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ira studied Mechanical Engineering and Physics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA before entering the Physics graduate program at the University of Maryland. While at UMD, Ira began a graduate internship at Goddard working with the nascent LISA project. After moving to The University of Florida to complete his Ph.D., Ira returned to Goddard as a postdoc and later converted to a position in the federal civil service. Ira lives with his wife and three young boys in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Any time that is not covered by science or parenting will typically find Ira running, cycling, or hiking.