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Nasa’s Chandra X Ray Observatory Spectroscopy Essay

1398 words - 6 pages

Nasa’s Chandra x-ray observatory was launched on July 23, 1999, and with a length of 45 feet is the largest satellite ever launched. The observatory was first proposed to NASA in 1976, funding began in 1977, and after more than 20 years it was finally launched into space. It was previously known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF), but after a contest in 1998 it was renamed to Chandra after Nobel-prize winning Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. “Chandra's main mission is to teach us about the Universe that we live in which has indirect benefits, e.g. by inspiring students to take an interest in math and physics, or showing people how complicated and ...view middle of the document...

Once Chandra detected those sources, they can be observed and imaged at other wavelengths by optical telescopes.

Chandra has four different instruments the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer(ACIS) an x-ray imager; High Resolution Camera(HRC) an micro channel plate with two detectors ; High Energy Transmission Grating (HETG) that is used for high resolution spectroscopy; and a Low Energy Transmission Grating (LETG). The ACIS is particularly useful as it can make x-ray images and measure the energy of the incoming x-ray at the same time. The ACIS can also be used together with the HETG or LETG. It is used for conducting imaging, temporal and spectroscopic studies of celestial objects in the universe. However, the ACIS CCDs suffered damage during early radiation belt passages, and the instrument has been removed in order to prevent further damage. Chandra made many discoveries and had and still has a great impact on X-ray astronomy. Giacconi, who paired up with Tananbaum to propose the building of AXAF, shared a Nobel Prize for his ground-breaking work in X-ray astronomy in 2002. Here are some examples from what it has recorded: It has seen the shadow of a galaxy whilst being cannibalized by a larger one. It has also found out that nearly all main sequence stars are x-ray transmitters. The observatory has also recorded a black hole that had winds racing at the speed of 20 million mph.
This is an example of two pictures taken of the Crab Nebula. The one on the left was taken by the Rontgensatellite, it was the observatory with the best imaging capability before Chandra. The one on the right was taken by chandra’s ACIS, and it shows new details about the Nebula.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/graphics/about/crab_compare.jpg
Even one of the first pictures taken by Chandra helped Scientists analyze the history of Cassiopeia A, a star that exploded in a supernova in 1572.About that NASA wrote, "Scientists can see evidence of what may be a neutron star or black hole near the center,” in a press release in August 1999. Chandra’s mission was initially scheduled to end after five years, but it’s lifetime was extended by ten more years, “based on the observatory’s outstanding results”(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. September 28, 2001.). According to NASA, its goal was to take "high-resolution images and spectra of X-ray sources”. Since its launch 14 years and 10 months ago it has regularly served as new, stunning pictures of the universe.
The Chandra observatory was reconfigured in 1992 in order to reduce costs. Eight out of the twelve planned mirrors survived the change, so did four of the six planned instruments. The development of Chandra cost $ 1.65 billion, Hubble space telescope cost $1.5 billion at its launch in 1990. At the launch of the observatory, the space shuttle columbia had some difficulties. Another problem is that as the Observatory has to orbit outside of the Earth, as our atmosphere absorbs X-rays, repairs could be difficult to...

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