The United States launches a rocket into space for 15 minutes: why is it needed

NASA-funded team of scientists to launch Micro-X rocket from White Sands Proving Ground in southern New Mexico 21

August. She will spend only 15 minutes in space.However, this is enough time to quickly photograph the remnant of the supernova Cassiopeia A. This is a star in the constellation Cassiopeia that exploded about 11,000 light-years from Earth. The rocket will then return to Earth with a parachute and land in the desert - about 72 km from the launch pad.

Credit: Northwestern University

The name Micro-X translates as"high-resolution microcalorimetric x-ray rocket". It will be equipped with an X-ray spectrometer based on a superconductor. It measures the energy of each incoming X-ray beam from astronomical sources with unprecedented accuracy.

A supernova remnant is so hot thatsome of the light it emits is outside the visible range. So scientists will create an x-ray image. It is impossible to make it from the Earth - the atmosphere of the planet absorbs this type of radiation.

Cassiopeia A. Photo: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart

Although the Micro-X will be launched from New Mexico, the rocket andThe payload was built at the Figueroa-Feliciano Laboratory on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. The hardest part is keeping the superconducting detectors at extremely low temperatures—just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, even as they heat up as they exit the atmosphere. The team solved this problem with a special "thermos" filled with liquid helium. The heat and vibrations of the rocket skin do not affect it during flight.

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