From time to time in the Chandra blog, we like to give a look at the behind the scenes of how things really work around here. As you may suspect, it takes a lot of effort from many, many people to make this mission a success. One area we haven't delved into too much yet is the "data analysis" and other herculean efforts that are required to make the Chandra data as useful and user-friendly as possible to the scientific community.
Yesterday, the Nobel Prize for Physics was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. As they often do, the Academy split the prize, with one half being shared by two scientists - William S. Boyle and George E. Smith - for their work on CCD sensors.
William S. Boyle (left) and George E. Smith in a shot taken in 1974.
© Alcatel-Lucent/Bell Labs
This week, about 200 scientists are gathered in Boston to describe, discuss, and dissect the past ten years of Chandra science. The symposium, dubbed "Chandra's First Decade of Discovery," has some exciting happenings. First, the astronauts from STS-93, the Space Shuttle mission that launched Chandra into orbit back in July 1999, are here. They are going to participate in a session this afternoon on "The History of Chandra." In addition to the astronauts, key scientists responsible for Chandra being the success that it is will be on hand. Tomorrow, Nobel-Prize winner Riccardo Giacconi will address the conference. Dr. Giaconni won the Nobel for physics for his work in the field of X-ray astronomy, including, of course, Chandra.
Everyone around here knows that Boston likes to consider itself the "Hub of the Universe". This month, it really is. Opening this weekend, two outdoor exhibitions â€“ at the Museum of Science and UMass-Boston â€“ will help Bostonians explore their place in the cosmos.
Those of you who are regularly readers of the Chandra blog already have heard a great deal about this project. But for the rest of you, here's some background.
Parents can play an important part in helping their child explore the world around them. Space might seem far out there, but it can ignite your child's imagination â€” and can cause them to zip around your living room pretending to be a rocket among the outer planets.
We have developed a lot of educational Chandra activities and products to do just that (ignite your child's imagination that is, not send them to the outer planets!). Here are three easy things to try with your young child (ages 5-8) to bring a little bit of Chandra and the rest of the Universe right to them.
Ten years ago tomorrow (August 26th), the official First Light image from Chandra was released to the world. The image was of the famous supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, taken less than a month after Chandra was deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Snapshots of Cassiopeia A
It's been ten years since Chandra was launched. A decade is a long time for a spacecraft, or any other complex machine, to operate without maintenance. Hubble has been up 18 years (launch 1991), but it has had regular maintenance with five Space Shuttle crews putting in new instruments and replacing worn out old parts. Chandra, on the other hand, was deliberately placed where the Shuttle couldn't service it. So Chandra's not doing badly considering there will be no 200-million-mile/10-year tune up!
The Chandra EPO group has put together the following list of cool Chandra stories, realizing that if too many people agree that they're cool, they may cease to be cool. The list is not in any order of priority because we suspect that would be uncool.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic landing on the Moon, when human beings stepped on our favorite (and only) natural satellite for the first time. This will be in the news all week, so we thought it would be a good time to revisit Chandra's contribution to studying the Moon.
Last month, over one hundred astronomers met for several days of marathon sessions in a Boston-area hotel. The purpose of this intense gathering, which takes a lot of work for the Chandra X-ray Center to organize, was to decide what Chandra will observe in the upcoming year. This process, called "peer review," is the engine that drives the science that Chandra discovers.
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