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Q&A: Chandra Mission

Q:
What is so special about AXAF?

A:
Chandra Spacecraft
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 universe.


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