Thursday, September 07, 2023

XRISM Launch in Japan: Exploring the Hidden X-ray Cosmos | NASA & JAXA

XRISM Launch in Japan: Exploring the Hidden X-ray Cosmos | NASA & JAXA

Japan successfully launched a rocket on September 7, 2023, carrying a lunar lander and X-ray telescope to explore the origins of the universe. The HII-A Launch Vehicle No. 47 lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan. The H-IIA successfully launched the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) and Japan's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) Mission. XRISM is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA. This new satellite aims to pry apart high-energy light into the equivalent of an X-ray rainbow using an instrument called Resolve. 

Resolve measures tiny temperature changes created when an X-ray hits its 6-by-6-pixel detector. To measure that minuscule increase and determine the X-ray’s energy, the detector needs to cool down to around minus 460 Fahrenheit (minus 270 Celsius), just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. The mission’s other instrument, developed by JAXA, is called Xtend. It will give XRISM one of the largest fields of view of any X-ray imaging satellite flown to date, observing an area about 60% larger than the average apparent size of the full Moon.

XRISM is a collaborative mission between JAXA and NASA, with participation by the European Space Agency. NASA’s contribution includes science participation from the Canadian Space Agency.

Once XRISM reaches its operating orbit 550 km above Earth’s surface, scientists and engineers will begin a ten-month phase of testing and calibrating the spacecraft’s scientific instruments and verifying the science performance of the mission. XRISM will then spend at least three years observing the most energetic objects and events in the cosmos based on proposals elaborated by scientists all over the world.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is a Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission designed to demonstrate accurate lunar landing techniques. SLIM will not take a direct route to the moon. After a lunar transfer orbit burn, it will make a lunar flyby, heading into a wide loop away from the Earth-moon system before returning to enter lunar orbit in around four months’ time. This will save on propellant. 

The landed weight will be about 210 kg. The landing objective is to be within 100 meters of the target point, the ejecta blanket of Shioli crater (a crater centered at approximately 13.322 S, 25.232 E). Shioli is a small lunar impact crater that is located within the much larger Cyrillus crater on the near side of the Moon. It is a young crater with a prominent ray system.

SLIM launched on September 7, 2023, as a "ride-share" payload with the XRISM mission. 

Image Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Caption Credit: NASA/ESA

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