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6/15/2024 11:52:35 AM
Jammed door on XRISM telescope blocks low-energy X-ray observation
XRISM,JAXA,NASA,space telescope,X-ray astronomy,Resolve,instrument jam,Chandra X-ray Observatory
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Jammed door on XRISM telescope blocks low-energy X-ray observation


Saturday, June 15, 2024

Richard Harris Richard Harris

The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), a collaboration between JAXA and NASA, encountered a major setback when an aperture door jammed, obstructing its primary instrument, Resolve. Despite efforts to fix the issue, the telescope's ability to measure low-energy X-rays remains compromised.

Astronomers were thrilled at the prospect of uncovering new insights into the universe's formation and dark matter through the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), a collaborative project between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA.

The telescope, launched successfully in September 2023, encountered an unexpected problem: one of the aperture doors covering its primary instrument, Resolve, which detects particles, became jammed. This malfunction has caused significant concern among scientists.

Photo credit: JAXA

XRISMs Resolve captures Perseus cluster X ray spectrum

XRISM's Resolve (XRISM’s onboard soft X- ray spectrometer) captures Perseus cluster X-ray spectrum

Efforts to remotely open the jammed door have been unsuccessful. NASA has confirmed to Space.com that the intended 18-month operation of the telescope is now uncertain, as officials deliberate on the best course of action. This is particularly disappointing since XRISM was expected to serve as a powerful successor to NASA's older Chandra X-ray Observatory, which is facing potential budgetary constraints threatening its operations.

Photo credit: JAXA

H IIA F47 launching XRISM and SLIM from JAXA Tanegashima Space Center

H-IIA F47 launching XRISM and SLIM from JAXA Tanegashima Space Center

Despite the issue, there is a positive aspect to Resolve's door malfunction. While the instrument cannot measure low-energy X-rays with the door closed, it remains capable of detecting high-energy X-rays, as these wavelengths are unaffected by the obstruction.

However, the situation remains disheartening for scientists who had anticipated groundbreaking advancements in X-ray astronomy. "I am absolutely gutted that we can't see below 2 keV," Simionescu told Space.com.

Photo credit: JAXA





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