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Three Burns And Three Doors To Go!!!

July 27, 1999 ::

A portrayal of the Chandra X-ray Observatory
A portrayal of the Chandra X-ray Observatory
The Chandra mission continues to progress smoothly. Yesterday afternoon, remote control commands to open the door on one of the primary scientific instruments were sent from Chandra Operations and Control Center in Cambridge, Mass. to the orbiting satellite. "We successfully opened the HRC housing door," reported Steve Murray, principal investigator for the HRC (High Resolution Camera). "This happened at about 3:00 p.m. and went off with no problems." The High Resolution Camera is designed to make sharp X-ray images over a wide field of view. Two clusters of 69 million tiny lead-oxide tubes convert incoming x-rays into electronic signals that are transmitted back to the Chandra Center in Cambridge where the image is constructed.

Over the next few weeks the HRC team will perform a variety of in-orbit checks on their instrument to have it ready when it is scheduled to be moved into focus and take measurements.

"I think that when we start getting the information back from Chandra about the world we live in, we will be extremely proud to be part of this mission," Eileen Collins, Commander of Space Shuttle Columbia which deployed Chandra on July 23, 1999.
Diagram of High Resolution Camera
The other primary scientific instrument, a CCD X-ray camera known as the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer or ACIS, is also undergoing checkout, and all systems look good.

Temperature in the focal plane area of the instrument was increased from minus120 degrees C to a "warm" minus 50 degrees C (58 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) Monday, and at 8:39 p.m. EDT a large vent valve was opened to allow any condensation or particles that may have accumulated on the instrument's detectors prior to launch to off-gas before the instrument is put to use. The door to ACIS is scheduled to be opened in nine more days in preparation for the first test observations which are currently scheduled for the second week of August.

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