SXS – X-Ray on the Universe

NASA has recently approved the construction of the High-Resolution Soft X-Ray Spectrometer (SXS), an instrument devised to study the extreme environments of the universe. The new instrument will help researchers explore dark matter on a large scale as well as the evolution of large galactic structures.

The winning design was originally submitted to NASA alongside 16 other proposals, which were reduced to two final options. Only one was chosen since only one telescope is to be built. The Soft X-Ray Spectrometer will accomplish several goals, including probing of matter in extreme environments, investigating the nature of dark matter on large scales in the universe, and exploring the manner in which galaxies and clusters of galaxies form and evolve.

The SXS, which will be developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will be installed on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s new exploration space X-Ray Telescope, or NeXT. The observatory, currently planned for launch in 2013, will open a new observing window on X-rays and the study of astrophysical phenomena. NASA’s proposed funding for the instrument and its operations is set at $44 million.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to create a powerful new x-ray spectrometer that will open up a whole new realm in high energy astrophysics in collaboration with our partners in Japan,” said Richard L. Kelley, the principal investigator for the SXS mission at Goddard. We have a great team in place that is anxiously waiting to start work.” Charles Gay, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, adds “Missions like SXS expand NASA’s science through partnerships with international and commercial organizations.”

TFOT has also covered collaboration between NASA and JAXA in the form of the STS-124 mission and the discovery of a solar enigma, made by the Hinode space telescope and launched from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC) in Japan. Other related TFOT stories include the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, a new observatory telescope that could help scientists understand some of our universe’s “best-kept secrets” and the construction of a telescope that will help observe dark energy.

More information on the SXS project can be found on NASA’s website.

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