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IXPE (SMEX 14, Explorer 97)

IXPE (SMEX 14, Explorer 97) [NASA]

IXPE (Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer) is a X-ray observatory led by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, measuring the linear polarization of astronomical objects as a function of energy, time and, where relevant, position to improve the understanding of how X-ray emission is produced in objects such as magnetars, isolated pulsars, pulsar wind nebula and supernova remnants, microquasars, active galaxies and supermassive black holes.

As the first dedicated polarimetry observatory IXPE will add a new dimension to the study of cosmic sources, enlarging the observational phase space and providing answers to fundamental questions. IXPE feature x-ray optics fabricated at NASA/MSFC and gas pixel focal plane detectors provided by team members in Italy (INAF and INFN).

The mission was built on an Ball Aerospace BCP-300 based bus. A deployable 4.5 m mast holding the X-ray optics.

Launch was baselined for 2020 on a Pegasus-XL class vehicle. Due to budget adjustments, the mission was delayed six months to April 2021, later delayed to September 2021. In July 2019, a Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) was selected. This allows also increasing the orbital height from 540 km to 600 km.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Astronomy, X-ray
Operator: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Contractors: Ball Aerospace (bus)
Equipment: 3 co-aligned X-ray telescopes
Configuration: BCP-300
Propulsion: None
Power: Deployable solar array, batteries
Lifetime: 2-3 years
Mass: 330 kg
Orbit: 588 km × 603 km, 0.2
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IXPE (SMEX 14, Explorer 97) 2021-121A 09.12.2021 CCK LC-39A Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5)

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