NASA launched the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) on Wednesday to observe the secrets of the hidden universe including black holes and other “exotic objects”. The telescopic array was carried by a Pegasus XL rocket which dropped from an Orbital Science Corporation “Stargazer” aircraft and launched successfully into space.
NuSTAR is unique in that it uses the high energy X-Ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum to capture images of the Universe. In the artist rendering, pictured above, you will notice that there is a very long mast stretching out from the main craft. This mast separates the optics from the focal plane. The reason for this is to help with focus. The visible light that we use in our everyday cameras doesn’t need much distance between the lens and the focal point. However, these X-rays require greater distance to get the proper focus.
According to NASA.GOV website, the NusSTAR mission will accomplish the following:
- Take a census of collapsed stars and black holes of different sizes by surveying regions surrounding the center of own Milky Way Galaxy and performing deep observations of the extragalactic sky;
- Map recently-synthesized material in young supernova remnants to understand how stars explode and how elements are created; and
- Understand what powers relativistic jets of particles from the most extreme active galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.
For more information about NuSTAR, visit its mission site at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/main/index.html.