NASA IXPE Thermal Straps

NASA's IXPE Launches with TAI Thermal Straps Along for the Ride

In case you missed it yesterday, Space-X launched NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite , from Cape Canaveral, FL, and TAI's Graphite Fiber Thermal Straps (GFTS®) were along for the ride!

INFN Thermal Straps - NASA IXPE

The refrigerator-sized IXPE satellite is a $214 million dollar mission that investigates the physics behind black holes and neutron stars.  IXPE is equipped with three telescopes that will study the polarization of light (i.e. how a light wave oscillates relative to the direction of the wave), and with that capability, astronomers will be able to refine the structure and study the mechanisms that power these types mysterious cosmic objects.

TAI provided nearly a dozen GFTS® and GFTS® - TEC Hybrid Thermal Straps to Ball Aerospace and Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), to cool IXPE's X-ray polarization detectors and other instruments on the spacecraft. Both programs were completed in 2018 and 2019, with straps designed and manufactured by TAI's Dave Dyke and Trevor Sperry.

IXPE's technical and scientific objectives include:

  • improving polarization sensitivity by two orders of magnitude over the X-ray polarimeter aboard the Orbiting Solar Observatory OSO-8(scientists see HEASARC: Observatories),
  • providing simultaneous spectral, spatial, and temporal measurements,
  • determining the geometry and the emission mechanism of Active Galactic Nuclei and microquasars,
  • finding the magnetic field configuration in magnetars and determining the magnitude of the field,
  • finding the mechanism for X ray production in pulsars (both isolated and accreting) and the geometry,
  • determining how particles are accelerated in Pulsar Wind Nebulae.

This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows a jet emanating from the central, supermassive black hole of Centaurus A. The colors in this image represent the energy of the detected X rays, with red for low, green for middle, and blue representing high-energy X rays. Astrophysical objects like this one, are good candidates for observations of polarization that will give us information about the object's magnetic field and its configuration. For more information on this image, you may visit the Chandra X-ray Observatory's website.

Image and Content Credit: NASA,


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