Mark H. Finger, 69, passed away peacefully on July 3, 2023, in Colorado Springs after a long illness. He is survived by his siblings, Jef Finger of Chicago, Laura (Finger) Torgerson of Colorado Springs, and Amy (Finger) Ziegler of Colorado Springs, as well as his son, Zac Finger of Tucson.
Mark was born in 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to parents Paul Finger of Minnesota, and Shirley (Hazlett) Finger. Mark attended undergraduate school at University of Colorado at Boulder, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics in 1978, and then went to California Institute of Technology as an astrophysicist and graduated with a Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 1988. He worked with advisors Dr. Robbie Vogt and Dr. Thomas Prince on gamma ray detection. Mark also met his wife at that time, Lynn (Goldmann) Finger of Pasadena, California, and they were married for 18 years, having one son, Zac Finger.
Shortly after graduating, Mark began working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, until he was offered a position at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, to work for NASA through the Universities Space Research Association. Mark did significant research in Huntsville with the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) Mission, in development with The Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO) which was launched into orbit from the Space Shuttle. After years of work and research, Mark was appointed head of his own lab at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, studying pulsed x-rays.
This is what his advisor and colleague Dr. Tom Prince, has to say about Mark. "Mark was an extraordinarily talented Caltech graduate student, and his thesis work represents a significant contribution to the field of gamma-ray astronomy. Mark was one of the first scientists to develop techniques for making images with gamma-rays, which are much higher energy than X-rays and consequently impossible to focus. A special character of Mark's research, on display in his 1988 Caltech thesis, was his mathematical creativity and rigor in analyzing his experimental systems. I am so grateful to have known Mark and worked with him during my early days at
Attached is one of the special 'uniformly redundant' array patterns that Mark and Tom worked on for gamma-ray imaging techniques. In fact, Tom’s wife Charlene and her mother made a quilt out of one of these patterns. Also attached is his logo from the European Integral Gamma-Ray mission which used one of their array patterns.