NASA launched a Ball Aerospace-built space observatory Thursday for the agency’s joint mission with its Italian counterpart to study X-rays from supermassive black holes, supernova remnants and other high-energy objects in the universe.
The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer spacecraft lifted Thursday aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and will use three telescopes with sensitive detectors to conduct measurements, NASA said Thursday.
Ball Aerospace is responsible for managing IXPE spacecraft operations at a University of Colorado Boulder laboratory.
The Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama developed the telescopes while the Italian space agency created the detection instruments for the mission.
“Each NASA spacecraft is carefully chosen to target brand new observations enabling new science, and IXPE is going to show us the violent universe around us – such as exploding stars and the black holes at the center of galaxies – in ways we’ve never been able to see it,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate.
The agency expects light operations of the new observatory to commence in January.