NASA Launches NuSTAR Mission
By on June 14th, 2012

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

Artist Rendering of the NuStar Telescope (Courtesy NASA.GOV)

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:

  1. 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;
  2. Map recently-synthesized material in young supernova remnants to understand how stars explode and how elements are created; and
  3. Understand what powers relativistic jets of particles from the most extreme active galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.
According to NASA’s Astrophysics Division Director, Paul Hertz, “NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and will provide complementary data to NASA’s larger missions, including Fermi, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer.” Researchers hope to explore regions of the Universe previously impossible to see. They boast that NuSTAR beats previous X-ray type observatories by a factor of 10 to 100. Currently the observatory has released its solar charging panels and is communicating successfully back to earth. It is expected to extend its mast in about  a week. You can view the launch via the video embedded below.

For more information about NuSTAR, visit its mission site at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/main/index.html.

 

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Author: Darrin Jenkins Google Profile for Darrin Jenkins
Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

Darrin Jenkins has written and can be contacted at darrin@techie-buzz.com.
 
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