Shuttle Columbia in 1999. accelerated in a supernova remnant, expansion speed per hour the Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light, and the Compton So, you have to tell that branch of Congress, “Hey, my mission makes no sense unless I have this facility.” But that also means that if they don’t accept your facility, your mission is dead. Just even in the past year, you were mentioning you’ve really seen some things that are very fascinating coming back from Chandra, right, and there’s been some real interest around some of the findings. So, I spent a number of years in oversight of the development of the mirror assembly, the HRMA. That’s all held together by 12 beads of epoxy per telescope. I certainly thought about how long it would take us to get it up there and be launched, but I never thought one way or the other about the end of Chandra until very recently. formed by a neutron star, age of the youngest supernova So that’s always a constant challenge. First Light: Celebrating 20 Years of Chandra Observatory, Chandra: Two Decades of Seeing the Universe in a Different Light (with Chandra Director, Belinda Wilkes), Credit: Jeffery DelViscio, Kelso Harper, and Dominic Smith (Scientific American), Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. I think that was one of the major reasons for its success. So, you couldn’t take old results and use them as calibrations on orbit. Cole: What I’ve encouraged and what also I’ve observed about the Chandra team is an incredible level of passion for the success of Chandra, and for the efficiency by which the science is collected. It was really nice for us associated with Chandra, because we were concerned that the reporters would concentrate on comparing us to Hubble, in the sense that, “Oh my, this is another telescope. That was very interesting. at It’s Marshall Space Flight Center. 20 years ago this week, Eileen Collins became the first female commander of a Space Shuttle. Not just simply to make sure it worked right, but to understand how it worked, because Chandra was going to be much more powerful than anything that had flown before. provided by Chandra. Each decade has brought new innovations and new As part of NASA’s “Great Observatories” So, we work very hard to keep ahead of any trending behaviors we might see on the spacecraft as it ages, and I think we have a very good track record in doing this effectively. The science output has been tremendous. Conference Poster. 20 Years of Chandra Science Symposium December 3-6, 2019 Boston Park Plaza Hotel Boston, MA. Host: There’s been so much celebration with the Apollo 50th anniversary, but there is another anniversary happening right now and this year is a big year as far as looking back at the Chandra X-ray Observatory, 20 years on orbit. Chandra has been used in its own way to measure dark matter’s cross section, its ability to interact with normal matter. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is our prime contractor, and they’re responsible for actually operating the spacecraft and performing the Science Center efforts for NASA. Another thing I’ve observed is the level of innovation that the team takes in looking forward and trying to plan ahead for things that may occur in the future. It’s performed well beyond anyone’s expectations at the time of launch, and it’s continuing to make incredible discoveries. Host: What do you consider to be Chandra’s most remarkable scientific discoveries? Host: How long is Chandra expected to last? So, we would be looking at mid-2024 or longer. Host: You must have so many stories. Do you have any stories related to the launch of the shuttle or the deployment of the observatory? multimessenger in nature, with many of the very significant and Weisskopf: Yes, they are, because, for example, unlike our sister mission, Hubble, we’re not serviceable. So, we know a lot more about these distant X-ray sources than we did before, and that was certainly a major input to science and astrophysics. Weisskopf: Nobody was laughing then, but in retrospect, it’s kind of funny. Weisskopf: The true answer is there are so many that there is no one most, but certainly, there are several that come to my mind. That’s really amazing. It’s wonderful. This past year, there’s been a great change in the way we do astronomy with the building and discovery of gravitational wave detectors. Exploring the Invisible: 20 years of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Weisskopf: Yes, it was. We have people that are digging into that data as we speak, every year writing proposals to look at the archived data, and finding new things to look at and new things to suss out of the data. It’s just, when I tell it, you don’t believe it, that it would work, but it did. 1:30pm - 2:00pm; Rachel Osten (StSci & John Hopkins University) Seeing Stars in a New Light: What Have We Learned from 20 Years of Investigations with Chandra, and What Do We Still Need to Learn? Getting the facility built is a challenge in the government, because construction of facilities is something that is handled by a separate branch of Congress. It was funny in retrospect, but it was not funny when it was discovered. worth of oxygen ejected into There are four separate optics that co-align and focus and they weigh a ton. It’s Perkin-Elmer who built the optics. 20 years ago this week, Eileen Collins became the first female commander of a Space Shuttle. target galaxy it is striking, how many times stronger the You have to remember this beast was designed for three years, with the goal of five, and we’re in our twentieth year now. And it still is aligned. El Gordo galaxy cluster, lines of code written It’s been used to try to understand how neutron stars, these objects that are about 20 miles in diameter and weigh as much as the sun, how they radiate X-rays. Then I moved away and did some other spaceflight activities and got to manage some other things. In its 20 years of program, Chandra was designed and built to observe X-rays alongside and analyze data, Download a new illustration of the Chandra spacecraft. We tried to find the knee in the curve for trades of engineering complexity versus scientific return. There will be a Deana Nunley (Host): You’re listening to Small Steps, Giant Leaps – a NASA APPEL Knowledge Services podcast featuring interviews and stories, tapping into project experiences in order to unravel lessons learned, identify best practices and discover novel ideas. Chandra X-ray Observatory Project Manager Helen Cole and Project Scientist Martin Weisskopf discuss 20 years of exploring the extreme universe. Host: So that all ended up being a complete success. Host: Could you give us an overview of Chandra? Host: And Chandra is considered one of the most successful flagship missions NASA has ever flown. emphasis on Riccardo Giacconi's role in this history, and the That’s, in general, how science works, right? Let’s begin with my conversation with Chandra Project Manager Helen Cole. Simplified When they first designed the extension, they forgot to take into account the curvature of the Earth on the piers. Chandra is building up an archive of all of its observations, and there’s gold in them “thar” hills. We welcome two guests to the podcast today — the Chandra Project Manager and the Project Scientist. Is something going to go wrong?” Nobody cared about us. active research in X-ray astronomy, but will emphasize the science that is Gamma-ray Observatory in gamma rays. As soon as we start talking about black holes and dark energy and dark matter, and the contributions that Chandra has done and what it’s like and how it was built, people like that. This meeting will celebrate the twenty years of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.The meeting will cover all areas of active research in X-ray astronomy, but will emphasize the science that is enabled by the high angular resolution and spectral resolution provided by Chandra. By the way, we’ve done everything that we said we would do, but there are new things that are discovered. star it tore apart, quantity of Sun masses in the Martin, take us back to the early days of Chandra. It’s wonderful. Weisskopf was previously an assistant professor at Columbia University and performed many pioneering experiments in X-ray astronomy—particularly in X-ray polarimetry. They went through flying from Eastman Kodak to Marshall, back to Eastman Kodak, out to California to be integrated, then to the Cape, then the rocket launch on the shuttle, then Inertial Upper Stage to put it in this orbit that goes a third of the way to the Moon. Host: What kind of reaction do you get when you’re with people and you talk about the science and everything that has happened during this Chandra mission? We invite you to take a moment and subscribe to the podcast, and tell your friends and colleagues about it. the Milky Way galaxy, weight of a sugar cube-sized Host: What’s it like to be on the same project for over four decades, and specifically in the role of project scientist on one of NASA’s Great Observatories? Host: Many thanks to Martin and Helen for joining us on the podcast. Some of the things you might expect is that we have the continuous challenge of planning ahead to make sure we’re ready for any possible anomaly that might come along in operations. From your perspective, what are some of the lasting benefits of the Chandra mission? centimeter in hot gas in a July 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the launch and deployment of the powerful observatory that has contributed to a revolution in the understanding of the cosmos. We look forward to what the next years may bring. Collins commanded the STS-93 mission that deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory. A few years ago, I was asked to come back and manage Chandra, and it’s just been my honor and it’s been very exciting. We look forward to what the next years may bring. Judy Collins, the singer, came and performed a special song that she had written in honor of Eileen and the launch. Cole earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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