NASA Restarts Telescope Mission to Detect Black Holes

September 24, 2007
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
Artist concept of the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array. Image credit: NASA/JPL

NASA has made a decision to restart an astronomy mission that will have greater capability than any existing instrument for detecting black holes in the local universe.

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, will expand our understanding of the origins and destinies of stars and galaxies. NASA had stopped the study effort on the NuSTAR mission in 2006 due to funding pressures within the Science Mission Directorate.

"We are very excited to be able restart the NuSTAR mission, which we expect to be launched in 2011," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "NuSTAR has more than 500 times the sensitivity of previous instruments that detect black holes. It's a great opportunity for us to explore an important astronomical frontier. We are getting more and more from the science budget we have, and the restart of the highly-valued NuSTAR mission is an example of that."

NuSTAR will bridge a gap between the 2009 launch of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the 2013 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. The spacecraft will map areas of the sky in the light of high-energy X-rays and complement astrophysics missions that explore the cosmos in other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

"NuSTAR will perform deep observations in hard X-rays to detect black holes of all sizes and other exotic phenomena," said Jon Morse, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters. "It will perform cutting-edge science using advanced technologies and help to provide a balance between small and large missions in the NASA astrophysics portfolio."

NuSTAR is a part of NASA's Explorer Program. The program provides frequent, low-cost access to space for missions with small- to mid-sized spacecraft. NuSTAR originally was selected from proposals submitted in response to an announcement of opportunity in 2003. Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, is the NuSTAR principal investigator.

NASA expects to select three additional Small Explorer missions for flight in the first half of the next decade through a competitive selection within the astrophysics and heliophysics scientific communities.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Seeing the light of neutron star collisions

Related Stories

Seeing the light of neutron star collisions

October 16, 2017

When two neutron stars collided on Aug. 17, a widespread search for electromagnetic radiation from the event led to observations of light from the afterglow of the explosion, finally connecting a gravitational-wave-producing ...

Launch of NASA's nuSTAR mission postponed

March 19, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The planned launch of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission has been postponed after a March 15 launch status meeting. The launch will be rescheduled to allow additional time to confirm ...

NASA's NuSTAR ships to Vandenberg for March 14 launch

January 25, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Tuesday, to be mated to its Pegasus launch vehicle. The observatory will detect X-rays from objects ...

NuSTAR celebrates first 100 days

September 21, 2012

(Phys.org)—Today, Sept. 21, 2012, marks 100 days since NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, launched into space from the L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft. Since completing its 30-day checkout, the telescope ...

Recommended for you

Bright areas on Ceres suggest geologic activity

December 13, 2017

If you could fly aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions. These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn ...

Major space mystery solved using data from student satellite

December 13, 2017

A 60-year-old mystery regarding the source of some energetic and potentially damaging particles in Earth's radiation belts is now solved using data from a shoebox-sized satellite built and operated by University of Colorado ...

Spanning disciplines in the search for life beyond Earth

December 13, 2017

The search for life beyond Earth is riding a surge of creativity and innovation. Following a gold rush of exoplanet discovery over the past two decades, it is time to tackle the next step: determining which of the known exoplanets ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.