Fiona Harrison is a professor of physics and astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and scientific leader for a NASA space telescope, NuSTAR, that's set to launch Wednesday. The $170 million mission will study high-energy X-rays from black holes, supernova explosions and our very own sun. Harrison, the second woman to lead a NASA mission, conceived the telescope in the early 1990s but had to wait for technology to catch up.
Q: Most people think of X-rays in terms of a dental visit, but for astrophysicists, these high-energy waves open a window on strange objects in the universe. Why did you get interested in them?