NASA Announces Contest to Name X-Ray Observatory
[UPDATE: AXAF was renamed the Chandra X-ray Observatory and successfully
launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia on 28 July 1999.
Read more about it!]
NASA is searching for a new name for the
Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF),
currently scheduled for launch Dec.
3, 1998, from the Space Shuttle Columbia. AXAF is the third of
NASA's Great Observatories, after the
Hubble Space Telescope and
the Compton Gamma
Ray Observatory. Once in orbit around Earth, it
will explore hot, turbulent regions in the universe where X-rays
Entries should contain the name of a person (not living),
place, or thing from history, mythology, or fiction. Contestants
should describe in a few sentences why this choice would be a good
name for AXAF. The name must not have been used before on space
missions by NASA or other organizations or countries.
The grand prize will be a trip to NASA's
Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, to see the launch of the satellite
aboard the Space Shuttle. Ten runner-up prizes will be awarded
and all entrants will receive an AXAF poster.
The grand prize is sponsored by TRW Inc., AXAF's prime
contractor. The AXAF Science Center in Cambridge, MA, will run
the contest for NASA. NASA will announce the final selection of
the winning name later this year.
Entries also can be mailed to: AXAF Contest, AXAF Science
Center, Office of Education and Public Outreach, 60 Garden Street,
MS 83, Cambridge, MA 02138. Mailed entries must be postmarked no
later than June 30, 1998. All entries must state a name for the
mission, along with the reason the name would make a good choice.
The observatory, now in the final stages of assembly and
testing at TRW's facility in Redondo Beach, CA, is more than 45
feet long and weighs 10,500 pounds. AXAF is the largest and most
powerful X-ray observatory ever constructed, and its images will
be more than ten times sharper than any previous X-ray telescope.
This focusing power of the telescope is equivalent to the ability
to read a newspaper at a distance of half a mile.
Cosmic X-rays are produced by violent events, such as when
stars explode or galaxies collide. X-rays also are emitted by
matter heated to many millions of degrees as it swirls toward a
black hole. The only way to observe these and other extremely hot
astronomical sources is with a space-based X-ray telescope.