A satellite called the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), a collaborative effort between Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is set to launch on August 26. XRISM aims to investigate mysteries surrounding the formation of the universe and the structure of spacetime.
XRISM will focus on analyzing X-ray light in space to unlock secrets of the cosmos. For example, detecting X-ray light from the super-hot gas that surrounds galaxy clusters, the satellite will be able to measure the mass of these clusters. This will provide new insights into the evolution of the universe. Additionally, the X-rays emitted this gas, which is a remnant of star birth and death, will shed light on the history of the universe’s chemical elements.
The satellite’s other key objective is to measure X-ray light emitted incredibly dense objects like supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. By studying how these objects warp spacetime and influence their surroundings, XRISM will offer clues about their impact on host galaxies.
Matteo Guainazzi, the ESA project scientist for XRISM, explained that X-ray astronomy enables the study of the most energetic phenomena in the universe, and it holds the key to answering important questions about astrophysics and the evolution of structures in the universe.
JAXA is leading the XRISM mission, with ESA providing hardware and scientific advice. ESA’s contributions include an optical telescope that ensures the satellite is precisely oriented, instruments that sense Earth’s magnetic field and adjust the spacecraft’s position accordingly, and the Resolve instrument, which measures temperature and dynamics of X-ray emitting objects. ESA will be allocated 8% of XRISM’s observing time for its contribution to the mission.
The XRISM satellite is scheduled to launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on August 26. Interested viewers can watch the launch live on JAXA’s YouTube channel.
- The European Space Agency (ESA)