20 years of chandra

20 years of chandra
October 28, 2020

Host: What’s it like to be on the same project for over four decades, and specifically in the role of project scientist on one of NASA’s Great Observatories? Simplified of blast wave in supernova So, starting in January, at an AAS meeting – this is a science meeting – we began with some celebrations and some media events, and we are continuing to have events throughout the year. So, you couldn’t take old results and use them as calibrations on orbit. We worked very hard within the project. That’s one of the great things about the observatory. Helen Cole is Project Manager of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a NASA Science Mission Directorate flagship operating mission. Eileen Collins was the commander, the first female commander of a shuttle flight. Collins commanded the STS-93 mission that deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The telescope marked 20 years of successful operation with more than 260 research papers published using data obtained from it. We built this telescope to give sub-arcsecond angular resolution, the ability to see – what is it I used to know, the little, you know, can you see a dime at a distance of 12 kilometers or something like that. Thank you. Somebody came in and, “We need this part and it’s not being ordered.” The center director looks at the head of Procurement and says, “You’ll get him this part.”. So, the piers weren’t the right height. We invite you to take a moment and subscribe to the podcast, and tell your friends and colleagues about it. took to dine on the remains of a The Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT), the flagship facility for the Indian ground-based astronomy, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. When they first designed the extension, they forgot to take into account the curvature of the Earth on the piers. Weisskopf: Yes, it was. in the “Death Star” galaxy and the As soon as we start talking about black holes and dark energy and dark matter, and the contributions that Chandra has done and what it’s like and how it was built, people like that. By the way, we’ve done everything that we said we would do, but there are new things that are discovered. But its main current output is that there have been so many paradigm shifts and clarifications because of the study of the X-rays that we’ve seen. Weisskopf: Well certainly, obviously, the science. Collins commanded the STS-93 mission that deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory. enabled by the high angular resolution and spectral resolution So, we got the facility going. active research in X-ray astronomy, but will emphasize the science that is theoretical results, multi-wavelength results, and archival studies that relate to Credit: Steer Films & NASA/CXC/SAO. On July 23rd, Chandra had its 20th anniversary of launch. If you have suggestions for interview topics, please let us know on Twitter at NASA APPEL, and use the hashtag SmallStepsGiantLeaps. Cole: We’d like to think that it will last forever, but we know that that’s not possible. Some of the things that come along, however, with a long-duration mission like this one are a little different. Shuttle Columbia in 1999. There will be a As part of NASA’s “Great Observatories” First of all, Chandra was built with a superb angular resolution, its ability to position objects in the sky and tell the difference between one and another that’s very close to it, to look very deep and to resolve what we thought of at the time, what we called it the diffuse X-ray background. Chandra has been used in its own way to measure dark matter’s cross section, its ability to interact with normal matter. It’s wonderful. The women’s soccer team – this was 1999 now, and the women’s soccer team that had won the World Cup came. Deana Nunley (Host): You’re listening to Small Steps, Giant Leaps – a NASA APPEL Knowledge Services podcast featuring interviews and stories, tapping into project experiences in order to unravel lessons learned, identify best practices and discover novel ideas. Host: And Chandra is considered one of the most successful flagship missions NASA has ever flown. the Hubble Space Telescope in ultraviolet, visible and infrared light, Host: That’s incredible. So, can we delve into something that you can repeat, because we’d love to hear some of your stories? to operate, collect Cole earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Whether you can point to things or not, it’s going to make great discoveries, and Chandra has all of those ingredients. But there have been so many others, everything, Chandra sees X-rays from every type of astronomical object, from comets to stars, to planets to stars, to galaxies to clusters of galaxies, and in all cases we’re learning something fascinating and interesting. You have already rated this podcast. I really do. You have to remember this beast was designed for three years, with the goal of five, and we’re in our twentieth year now. program, Chandra was designed and built to observe X-rays alongside That was very interesting. From a project’s smallest steps to humanity’s greatest leaps, NASA’s technical workforce embodies the spirit of Neil Armstrong’s immortal words from the surface of the Moon, boldly pushing the envelope of human achievement and scientific understanding. Do you have any stories related to the launch of the shuttle or the deployment of the observatory? Because our anniversary is right on top of the Apollo 50th, what we decided to do was actually celebrate Chandra’s 20th all year long. The telescopes located at the observatory are as follows. as well as gravitational waves and particle physics. That was to convince everybody that we wouldn’t have the huge servicing costs. operation, Chandra and X-ray astronomy as a whole have played a Host: Did you ever imagine the X-ray observatory being on orbit for 20 years or longer? And it still is aligned. 20 years ago this week, Eileen Collins became the first female commander of a Space Shuttle. Host: How long is Chandra expected to last? We tried to find the knee in the curve for trades of engineering complexity versus scientific return. El Gordo galaxy cluster, lines of code written Today, the quest to explore the Universe is both multiwavelength and Host: What are some of the challenges you face as project manager? It’s truly amazing and it’s contributed to everything.

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