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Celebrating 50 Years of X-ray Astronomy:
Brief Satellite Timeline

This is a brief timeline of X-ray telescopes and satellite that our scientists talk about in their interviews. For a full timeline of X-ray astronomy, check out A Brief History of High-Energy (X-ray & Gamma-Ray) Astronomy.



Artists impression of Uhuru in space Artist's impression of Uhuru in space. (Credit: NASA)

Uhuru
December 1970 - March 1973

Uhuru launched in December 1970 from the San Marco platform in Kenya. It was the first earth-orbiting mission dedicated entirely to celestial X-ray astronomy.

Visit the Uhuru mission page



OSO-7 in flight OSO-7 in flight. (Credit: NASA)

7th Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO-7)
September 1971 - July 1974

The 7th Orbiting Solar Observatory mission was launched in Septermber 1971 onboard a Delta rocket. It was primarily a solar observatory designed to point a battery of UV and X-ray telescopes at the Sun from a platform mounted on a cylindrical wheel. However, it also carried propotional counters to observe cosmic X-ray sources.

Visit the OSO-7 mission page.



Ariel-5
October 1974 - March 1980

Ariel-5 under construction Ariel-5 under construction. (Credit: NASA)

Ariel V was launched in October 1974 from the San Marco launch platform in the Indian Ocean. The mission was a British-USA collaboration. The Science Research Council managed the project for the UK and GSFC/NASA for the USA. Ariel V was dedicated to monitoring the X-ray sky with a comprehensive payload. The mission ended in the spring of 1980.

Visit the Ariel- 5 mission page.



OSO-78 launch Launch of OSO-8. (Credit: NASA)

8th Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO-8)
June 1975 - October 1978

The 8th Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO-8) was launched in June 1975 onboard a Delta rocket. While its primary objective was to study the Sun, it also carried four instruments dedicated to studying X-rays from cosmic sources.

Visit the OSO-8 mission page



Artist's impression of RXTE in flight Artist's impression of RXTE in flight. (Credit: NASA)

Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE)
December 1995 - January 2012

The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) was launched in December 1995 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The mission featured unprecedented time resolution in combination with moderate spectral resolution to explore variability in X-ray sources.

Visit the RXTE Learning Center.



Artist's impression of Chandra in flight Artist's impression of Chandra in flight. (Credit: NASA/CXC/NGST)

Chandra X-ray Observatory (Chandra)
July 1999 - Present

The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched and deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1999. The mission was designed to observe X-rays from high-energy sources in the universe, such as the remnants of exploded stars.

Visit the Chandra Website



Artist's impression of XMM-Newton in flight Artist's impression of XMM-Newton in flight. (Credit: ESA)

XMM-Newton
December 1999 - Present

XMM-Newton is a joint European Space Agency (ESA)-NASA mission launched in December 1999 from the ESA base at Kourou, French Guiana. It was designed to observe high-energy X-rays emitted from exotic astronomical objects such as pulsars, black holes and active galaxies.

Visit the XMM-Newton Education and Public Outreach Site



Artist's impression of Integral in flight Artist's impression of INTEGRAL in flight. (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Integral
October 2002 - Present

The International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) was launched in July 2005 aboard a Russian Progon rocket. It is a project of the European Space Agency and was the first observatory to have the capability of observing gamma rays, X-rays and visible light simultaneously.

Visit the INTEGRAL mission page.



The Suzaku spacecraft after vibration testing The Suzaku spacecraft after vibration testing (Credit: NASA)

Suzaku
July 2005 - Present

Suzaku was launched in July 2005 from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan. It was Japan's fifth X-ray astronomy mission, and was developed in collaboration with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and institutions in the U.S. and Japan.

Visit the Collaboration Across Cultures website to learn more about all of the NASA-JAXA collaborations in X-ray astronomy.



Artist's impression of NuSTAR in flight Artist's impression of NuSTAR in flight (Credit: NASA/JPL)

NuSTAR
June 2012 - Present

NuSTAR was launched in June 2012 from a L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft. It is the first focusing high energy X-ray mission and will search for black holes, map supernova explosions, and study the most extreme active galaxies.

Visit the NuSTAR Education and Public Outreach Site.



Artist's impression of Astro-H in flight Artist's impression of Astro-H in flight (Credit: ISAS/JAXA)

Astro-H
Scheduled for launch in 2014

Astro-H is scheduled for launch in 2014. It will be Japan's sixth X-ray astronomy mission, and is under development in collaboration with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and institutions in Japan.

Visit the Collaboration Across Cultures website to learn more about all of the NASA-JAXA collaborations in X-ray astronomy.




Publication Date: June 2012

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Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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This page last updated: Thursday, 21-Jun-2012 11:45:28 EDT