The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) is a space telescope, designed by NASA in the 1990s. Chandra’s mission is to observe x-ray emissions from high-energy regions of the universe, such as the remnants of collapsed stars, galaxy clusters, and black holes.
History of The Chandra X-ray Observatory
The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), previously called the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility, is a space telescope, launched by NASA on July 23, 1999. It was renamed in December 1998, after the astrophysicist and Nobel Prize winner, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who theorized about the development of stars. CXO was designed to detect sources over 20 times fainter than any previous telescope, and has continued to provide valuable insight on x-ray wavelengths in our universe for over 20 years.
Who Proposed the Chandra X-ray Observatory?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) was proposed by Riccardo Giacconi and Harvey Tananbaum in 1976. Funding began in 1977, when NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center began designing the telescope.
Who Built the Chandra X-Ray Observatory?
The Chandra X-ray observatory was primarily constructed by Northrop Grumman Corporation, called TRW Inc. at the time. Numerous contractors also made contributions to the mirrors and instruments, including:
- Goodrich Optical and Space Systems (previously Hughes/Danbury Optical Systems): Mirror Grinding and Polishing
- Optical Coating Laboratories, Inc.: Mirror Coating and Cleaning
- Eastman Kodak Corporation: Mirror Assembly
- Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp.: Instrument Module & Aspect System
- Penn State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS)
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO): High-Resolution Camera (HRC)
- Space Research Institute Netherlands, Max Planck Institute, MIT: Energy Transmission Grating
When Was the Chandra X-ray Observatory Launched?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched on July 23, 1999 at 11:30PM EST.
Where Was the Chandra X-ray Observatory Launched?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia during the STS-93 mission.
Who Operated the Chandra X-ray Observatory?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory is operated at the Chandra X-ray Center, in the Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Operations were overseen by Dr. Harvey Tananbaum, the Center’s director, from its inception until April 20, 2014. He was succeeded by Dr. Belinda J. Wilkes, who currently oversees its operation.
What Instruments did the Chandra X-ray Observatory Use?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) uses four scientific instruments to study high-energy phenomena in the universe. These include:
- The Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) is the primary detector for CXO, using charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to detect X-ray photons. It is capable of both imaging and spectroscopy, allowing scientists to study the properties of X-ray sources in detail.
- The High-Resolution Camera (HRC) uses a microchannel plate detector to make high-resolution images of X-ray sources. It is used to study point-like sources, such as X-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei.
- The High Energy Transmission Grating (HETG) is a set of gratings that disperses high-energy X-rays into a spectrum, allowing scientists to study the properties of X-ray sources in even greater detail.
- The Low Energy Transmission Grating (LETG) is a set of gratings that disperses low-energy X-rays into a spectrum, allowing scientists to study the properties of X-ray sources in even greater detail.
Where Did the Chandra X-ray Observatory Orbit?
Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) orbits the Earth in an elliptical shape, traveling for 64 hours and 18 minutes in each revolution. Its furthest point is over 133,000 km (82,646 mi) away from Earth, while i’s closest is just 16,000 km (9,942 mi) away.
What Has the Chandra X-ray Observatory Discovered?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory made numerous discoveries, which have improved our understanding of the universe through its x-ray vision. These discoveries include hundreds of supermassive black holes, which produce x-rays as they pull in the surrounding gases. CXO also found evidence of a new type of black hole in a galaxy called “M82”. This black hole holds the mass of over 500 suns within the size of our moon, NASA shared in a report on September 12, 2000. Other notable discoveries include the largest X-ray flare ever detected from the supermassive black hole, a ring around the pulsar in center of the Crab Nebula, and proof of the densest nearby galaxy known as M60-UCD1
How Did the Chandra X-ray Observatory Impact History?
The Chandra X-ray Observatory, part of NASA’s great observatories, provided deep insight into x-ray wavelengths within our universe. This insight has provided scientists with fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution, and composition of the universe, paving the way to numerous other missions, including NASA’s NuSTAR.
How Long will the Chandra X-ray Observatory Last?
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is funded through 2025, over 20 years past it’s expected operational lifetime of five years. On September 17, 2020, NASA officials shared that the mission could be extended through 2030.