NASA Podcasts

NASA Mission Update: CHANDRA
10.03.08
 
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Dark matter, black holes, supernovas, mysterious galactic phenomenon that hold the secrets to the origin, evolution, and destiny of the universe. Today those secrets are unraveling faster than ever, due in large part to discoveries made by NASA’s Chandra-X-ray Observatory, a powerful telescope system designed to view and record X-rays from high-energy regions of the universe.

Dr. Wilton Sanders: "Chandra really gives us information about the universe that the other missions don’t and can’t. Its X-ray sensitivity sheds light on what’s going on at very high energies and these are processes that you wouldn’t suspect were going on if there weren’t X-rays there to tell us about them. And from this we have been able to pin down black holes and neutron stars and supernova in a way that couldn’t be done without this type of instrument."

Chandra has the most sophisticated X-ray detection system ever built, providing scientists with astronomical details previously inaccessible. The observatory has three components: the X-ray telescope, whose four pairs of mirrors focus X-rays from celestial bodies, science instruments that record the X-rays, from which images are produced for analysis, and the spacecraft itself which provides a safe environment for the telescope and instruments.

Flying more than 200 times higher than Hubble - more than 1/3 of the way to the moon, Chandra observes X-rays from clouds of gas some of which are so vast it takes light five million years to go from one side to the other!

Dr. Wilton Sanders: "There's two kinds of questions that Chandra has been focusing on lately. One of them is more cosmological in nature, having to do with the existence o dark matter and the existence of dark energy, both of which Chandra can shed some light on. These very pressing problems with today’s cosmology issues. Another area that Chandra has been making a lot of progress lately is the study of supernova remnants. Its discovered the most recent supernova that has taken place in our galaxy and in some of the older supernova remnants its been measuring the temperature, structure and even the velocity of expansion supernova remnants."

Nine years after launch and deployment of this technological marvel in 1999, Chandra continues to operate smoothly, delivering exclusive, premier images of galaxy clusters, remnants of exploding stars and other events of the cosmos.

To learn more about Chandra visit: www.nasa.gov.

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