Launch of the The High Altitude Student Platform (HASP)

By krawcz on September 1, 2016 in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

We just witnessed the beautiful launch of the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) experiment . The experiment carries up to 12 student experiments into a space-like environment. The experiment was launched with a 11 million cubic feet balloon which can carry it to an altitude of 36 km (118,000 ...

The Scattering Polarimeter

By krawcz on September 1, 2016 in Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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...

Results of the Elevation Scan and Mirror Shimming

By krawcz on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized / No Comments

The elevation scan described in an earlier blog entry showed that the focal point wanders by less than 0.4 mm as the telescope elevation is changed from 3 degrees to 65 degrees. That’s a great result and confirms earlier results that the truss (designed by Guarino Engineering Services and f...

Graduate Research Assistant: Banafsheh Beheshtipour

By beheshtipour on August 30, 2016 in Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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 Uncategorized / 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. ...

Team Prepares for Balloon Flight to Study Black Holes

By krawcz on August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized / No Comments

Washington University Professors Krawczynski and Kislat are leading a campaign to launch the 8-m focal length X-ray telescope X-Calibur on a stratospheric balloon flight. A helium filled balloon will carry the telescope to an altitude of 126,000 feet, where it will observe the X-ray emission from...

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