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Spacelab 2

artist concept of Spacelab 2
Credit: NASA

* Mission Overview

Spacelab 2 was flown aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-51F) from 29 July-6 August 1985. One of the scientific experiments aboard the pallet was an X-ray telescope (XRT). While the Shuttle failed to get to the intended orbit because of a premature main engine shutdown, this did not seem to affect the XRT performance.

* Instrumentation

XRT was the first orbiting instrument able to make images directly at high energies. The Spacelab XRT, developed by the University of Birmingham, used a coded mask technique to make images at energies 2.5-25 keV. The instrument consisted of 2 co-aligned telescopes mounted together on an alt- azimuth system carried in the Space Shuttle payload bay. The main elements of each telescope were a gold coated coded mask in which the opaque elements occupied ~ 50% of the mask area, supported about 3 m from a position sensitive proportional counter. The 2 masks had different sized holes, producing different angular resolutions (3 arcmin and 12 arcmin, FWHM) of the sky. The higher resolution telescope was used to make detailed studies of the brighter sources and the other telescope was used to look at fainter regions of diffuse emission. Each telescope had a field of view of about 6 deg x 6 deg.

* Science

Over 75 hours of data were obtained including observations of 8 galactic clusters, the galactic center region, and the Vela SNR.


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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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Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: J.D. Myers
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This page last updated: Tuesday, 02-Oct-2007 13:15:21 EDT