NASA selects X-ray astronomy mission

GRAPEVINE, Texas — NASA has chosen an X-ray astronomy spacecraft to review black holes and different astronomical phenomena as the following flight in a program of small astrophysics missions, the company introduced Jan. 3.

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft, scheduled for launch in late 2020, shall be a small spacecraft with three telescopes designed to measure the polarization of X-rays. Measuring how the X-rays are polarized can present insights into the high-temperature environments the place they’re created.

“We can’t immediately picture what’s happening close to objects like black holes and neutron stars, however learning the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of those enigmatic objects,” Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, stated in an announcement. “XPE will open a brand new window on the universe for astronomers to look by way of.”

IXPE was considered one of three finalists chosen by NASA in July 2015 within the newest spherical of the Small Explorers program, supposed for small house science missions with a value cap, excluding launch, of $125 million. The opposite two finalists have been an all-sky infrared survey spacecraft known as SPHEREx and one other X-ray polarimetry mission, the Polarimeter for Relativistic Astrophysical X-ray Sources, or PRAXyS.

The full price of IXPE, together with launch and operations, shall be $188 million, in response to the NASA announcement. The discharge didn’t point out what automobile would launch IXPE, however earlier shows concerning the proposed mission said it was designed to launch on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL, a automobile that has been utilized by NASA for different small house science missions.

The principal investigator for IXPE is Martin Weisskopf, chief scientist for X-ray astronomy at NASA’s Marshall Area Flight Middle and venture scientist for the Chandra X-Ray Observatory spacecraft. IXPE shall be constructed by Ball Aerospace, with the Italian house company ASI offering polarization delicate X-ray detectors for the spacecraft.

The general Explorers program, which incorporates each small and medium courses of missions, is meant to offer extra frequent entry to house for astronomers than bigger missions. These applications embrace each standalone spacecraft missions in addition to “missions of alternative” for flying devices on balloons or different spacecraft, together with the Worldwide Area Station. NASA expects to pick a mission of alternative for the Small Explorers program from two finalists, a balloon-borne observatory of high-frequency radio emissions and a contribution to a Japanese cosmic microwave background mission, within the spring.

NASA, in an replace of its Astrophysics Implementation Plan report issued in December, stated it could perform 4 Explorer program solicitations within the decade of 2012 by way of 2021. That was a suggestion made in a report issued final 12 months assessing NASA’s progress in finishing up the 2010 decadal survey.

NASA issued an announcement of alternative for a Medium Explorer mission in September, with a value cap of $250 million excluding launch. NASA plans to pick a set of finalists in mid-2017 for additional examine, selecting one mission in early 2019 for launch by the tip of 2023. NASA additionally plans one other spherical of Small and Medium Explorer competitions in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.