Campaign Blog

The Downrange Station

By Fabian Kislat on September 4, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Yesterday, CSBF engineer Chris Field and I traveled to Winslow, Arizona, to set up the downrange station. This small field station enables communication with the balloon once it is out of range of the antennas at Fort Sumner, and thus allows for a longer flight. Winslow is about 300 miles west of...

Test with X-Ray Gun

By krawcz on September 4, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Yesterday and today, we made excellent progress. The WASP team performed several tests of the pointing system. Yesterday evening, we calibrated the polarimeter with an X-ray gun. The gun uses a high voltage (50,000 V) to accelerate electrons. The electrons, impinging on a target, emit X-rays. We ...

Nighttime Calibration Tests

By krawcz on September 2, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Today we are doing nighttime calibration tests by opening the door of the NASA hangar and pointing the telescope into the night sky. Unfortunately, Ewe cannot see any X-rays from cosmic objects because Earth’s atmosphere absorbs them. However, we use these tests to cross-calibrate various o...

The Scattering Polarimeter

By krawcz on September 1, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

X-Calibur detects the polarization (the preferred direction of the electric field transported by the photons) by scattering the photons off a low-atomic-number scattering element. The photons are subsequently absorbed in high-atomic-number solid-state detectors. The detected distribution of scatt...

Aerospace Engineer Jim Lanzi

By krawcz on September 1, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Jim Lanzi  is the lead engineer of the Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) developed at the Wallops Flight Facility. The WASP system is a general purpose pointing platform that can be used with different science payloads.  The X-Calibur flight will be the first science flight of the WASP system. Th...

Graduate Research Assistant: Banafsheh Beheshtipour

By beheshtipour on August 30, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / 2 Comments

My name is Banafsheh Beheshtipour, and I am a third-year graduate student in the physics department. I started working with Professor Krawczynski in the summer of 2014. My first project was to simulate stellar-mass black holes and supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei. The work is pr...

Elevation Scan

By krawcz on August 30, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

  Before aligning the X-ray mirror, we perform an elevation scan: the telescope elevation is changed from nearly horizontal to 65 degrees. A CCD camera installed at the center of the X-ray mirror measures the movement of the focal point of the mirror due to the bending of the truss. We expec...

Dr. Takashi Okajima

By krawcz on August 30, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Today, we will make sure the X-ray mirror’s optical axis is aligned with the X-Ray polarimeter’s. Dr. Okajima (shown in the photo above) fabricated and tested the mirror as a graduate student at Nagoya University (Japan). He is now a civil servant astrophysicist at Goddard Space Fligh...

The WASP Pointing System

By krawcz on August 30, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

The X-Calibur mission uses the Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) pointing system developed at the Wallops Flight Facility (Chincoteague Island, VA) to point the X-ray telescope towards the observed black holes and neutron stars. The WASP system can steer the 8m-long X-Calibur truss with a stabili...

WASP electrical technician Thomas Gadson (left), Washington University engineer Paul Dowkontt (center), and WASP electrical engineer Carl Snow (front)

Custom Electronics

By krawcz on August 30, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Most of the science payload uses custom electronics or customized electronics. The photo below shows Paul Dowkontt modifying one of the on-board computers used for monitoring and controlling the experiment. For the one-day X-Calibur flight, the entire experiment runs on batteries. Paul is adding ...

Installation of the X-Ray Mirror

By krawcz on August 29, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

Ordinary mirrors absorb X-rays or are transparent to X-rays. X-ray mirrors reflect X-rays through very small angles (less than a few degrees). Our collaborators Dr. Takashi Okajima and Dr. Hideyuki Mori from the Goddard Space Flight Center have contributed an 8-m-focal-length grazing-incidence mi...

X-Calibur’s Focal-Plane Instrumentation

By krawcz on August 29, 2016 in 2016 Fort Sumner Campaign / No Comments

When the electric field carried by X-rays exhibits a preferred direction, the X-rays are said to be polarized. X-rays (like all forms of electromagnetic radiation) acquire a net polarization when they are reflected. X-Calibur observes X-rays from matter surrounding black holes and neutron stars. ...

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