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Chandra 101: Overview for Teachers and Students
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A Look at X-Rays

X-ray AbsorptionWhy can't we have earthbound X-ray observatories?
X-ray observatories must be placed high above the Earth's surface because the Earth's atmosphere absorbs x-rays. This means that the ultra-precise mirrors and detectors -- together with the sophisticated electronics that convey the information back to Earth -- must be able to withstand the rigors of a rocket launch and operate in the hostile environment of space.