Nasa’s Chandra x-ray observatory has 100 times the resolving power of previous X-ray scopes and will be able to view the fine details of exploding stars and clusters of hot gas. It’s improved resolution is possible in part because of its unusually high elliptical orbit which will take it a third of the way to the moon. The scope was built by TRW of Redondo Beach, California.
Chandra’s communication system relays data to astronomers on Earth and receives their directions for locating new targets. It will move more slowly than the minute hand on a clock when it turns in space. Constant temperature is necessary for the telescope to work as an observatory and this is provided by a special thermal system. The observatory measures the number, position and energy of incoming X-rays to create an X-ray image and to study the temperature and other properties of the source.
The telescope system consists of four pairs of barrel-shaped mirrors and their support structures. The super smooth mirrors are placed along the sides of the telescope, gradually focusing X-ray beams to a point. Chandra’s ability to distinguish objects is equal to reading a newspaper from half a mile away.
Chandra records the natural X-rays that are emitted by almost every object in the universe and differs from other scopes and observatories such as the Hubble Telescope which measures visible and some ultraviolet light or the Compton Gamma ray Observatory which views gamma rays.
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