NASA, Italian Counterpart Partner to Study Cosmic X-Rays

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NASA and Italy’s space agency have agreed to jointly launch a mission that will explore cosmic X-rays beginning in 2020.

Robert Lightfoot, acting administrator of NASA, and Roberto Battiston, president of the Italian space agency, signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show to establish the terms of cooperation under the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission, NASA said Tuesday.

The IXPE mission aims to deploy three telescope systems designed to measure the polarization of cosmic X-rays and help both agencies discover their origins as well as interactions with matter and gravity in space.

NASA will contribute the X-ray telescopes and facilities to support end-to-end X-ray calibration and science operations under the program.

Italy’s space agency will provide three polarization-sensitive X-ray detectors that will serve as IXPE’s “eyes” as well as access to the agency’s equatorial ground station in Malindi, Kenya.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies has been selected to conduct spacecraft and mission integration efforts for the mission and will collaborate with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics to operate the flight system.

Other IXPE program partners include the Stanford University, McGill University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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