The Constellation Mission
Future Mission Gets Stellar Name
|22 October 1997|
The Next Generation X-ray Observatory called the High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy (HTXS) mission has been renamed the Constellation Mission. Dedicated to observations with high spectral resolution over the energy range 0.25 - 40 keV, Constellation will provide as much as a factor of 100 increase in sensitivity over currently planned high resolution X-ray spectroscopy missions. Constellation was selected as a new mission to be proposed for a FY2004 new start at the Space Science Enterprise Strategic Planning Workshop held in Breckenridge in May 1997; it can be thought of as the X-ray equivalent of the Keck Telescope and will mark the start of a new era in X-ray spectroscopy.
With its increased capabilities, Constellation will address many fundamental astrophysics questions such as the origin and distribution of the elements from carbon to zinc; the formation and evolution of clusters of galaxies; the validity of general relativity in the strong gravity limit; the evolution of supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei; the details of supernova explosions and their aftermath; and the mechanisms involved in the heating of stellar coronae and driving of stellar winds.