Q&A: Chandra Mission
What is so special about AXAF?
Launched by the Space Shuttle in July of
1999, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (formerly AXAF), can
detect and image X-ray sources that are billions of light years
away. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest most precisely
shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. If
the surface of Earth was as smooth as the Chandra mirrors, the
highest mountain would be less than six feet tall! The images
Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best
previous X-ray telescope. This focusing power is equivalent to
the ability to read a newspaper at a distance of half a mile.
Chandra's improved sensitivity makes possible more detailed
studies of black holes, supernovas, and dark matter and increase
our understanding of the origin, evolution, and destiny of the