JPL: Space Telescope Moves on with One Detector

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JPL: Space Telescope Moves on with One Detector

Post by bystander » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:00 pm

Space Telescope Moves on with One Detector
NASA JPL GALEX 2010-123 - 2010 Apr 12
Mission engineers and scientists with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a space telescope that has been beaming back pictures of galaxies for three times its design lifespan, are no longer planning science observations around one of its two ultraviolet detectors.

"The remaining, near-ultraviolet detector is still busy probing galaxies both nearby and distant," said Kerry Erickson, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "We've got lots of science data coming down from space."

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer rocketed into space from a jet aircraft in 2003. For four years of its primary mission, it mapped tens of millions of galaxies across the sky in ultraviolet light, some as far back as 10 billion years in cosmic time. Its extended mission began in 2008, allowing it to probe deeper into more parts of the sky, and pluck out more galaxies.

Last May, the spacecraft's far-ultraviolet detector experienced an over-current condition, or essentially "shorted out," via a process called electron field emission. This detector sees higher-energy ultraviolet light, and thus hotter and younger stars within galaxies, than the telescope's other, near-ultraviolet detector. (The far-ultraviolet detector sees light with wavelengths between 135 and 180 nanometers, while the near-ultraviolet detector sees wavelengths between 180 and 280 nanometers.)