NASA to Launch X-Ray Polarization Observatory Into Space
Space agency NASA is preparing to launch a new X-ray observatory into space to observe extreme cosmic objects.
The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer will study pulsars, black holes and other objects that could reveal how the universe works. It will analyze polarized X-ray light to allow scientists to study celestial objects, their behaviors, the surrounding environments and the physics of how X-rays came to life. IXPE is designed to be not as big as the Chandra X-ray observatory, but its new imaging components will still provide scientists the capabilities they need, NASA said.
IXPE’s new X-ray vision comes from new detectors developed in Italy. The observatory also carries three cylinder-shaped mirrors that would collect X-rays and send them to a detector, which will take a photo of the light wave and measure its direction of polarization.
Martin Weisskopf, the principal investigator for IXPE, said X-ray polarization has been a goal for NASA. According to the official, polarization is difficult to achieve because of the equipment and the long observation times. Now that the organization has the equipment, Weisskopf said NASA will be able to analyze X-rays for a long time.
IXPE is slated for launch on Dec. 9 onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The observatory is a partnership between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. Ball Aerospace is the main industry partner for the project.
Tags: Ball Aerospace Chandra X-ray observatory Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer Italian Space Agency Martin Weisskopf NASA space space observatory X-ray polarization