News archive

News archive

XMM-Newton is blessed with good luck! During the current calibration campaign of its science instruments ESA's new X-ray observatory has chanced on a sudden and dramatic alteration in a binary star system, whose properties had not changed for thirty years.
Published: 22 May 2000
To demonstrate the remarkable ability of XMM-Newton to discover faintX-ray sources, a series of observations is being made in the areaknown as the 'Lockman hole'.In the Ursa Major northern hemisphere constellation - thethird-largest constellation better known as Great Bear or as the BigDipper - the Lockman hole region is one of the best studied fields inX-ray astronomy. In this direction absorbing material such as dustand galactic hydrogen is at its most sparse, and through this 'hole'sensitive searches for extragalactic objects hold great promise andhave already brought a much greater understanding of X-ray backgroundradiation.
Published: 17 May 2000
Calibration of XMM-Newton's science instruments is continuing at a steady pace in view of the start of the operational phase of the mission next month. Since the end of commissioning, ESA's new X-ray space observatory has been viewing an average of one or more calibration target every day.One such target has been NGC 2516, a young open cluster in the southern hemisphere.
Published: 8 May 2000
Teamwork by an amateur astronomer and a retired member of the European Space Agency has resulted in the first picture of XMM-Newton seen from the Northern Hemisphere. ESA's new X-ray observatory - launched on 10 December 1999 and now going through the calibration phase of its science instruments - had already been snapped on 11 January by Australian amateur Gordon Garradd.
Published: 17 April 2000
Calibration operations providing a lot of extremely interesting dataThe first XMM-Newton Science Working Team meeting since the launch of the X-ray observatory last December has just been held at Vilspa on 5/6 April. It was an exceptionally well attended gathering. Convened by Project Scientist Fred Jansen, all those present had much to discuss, with new X-ray data and images to show.
Published: 14 April 2000
As the Science Working Team met in Vilspa, the XMM-Newton spacecraft was preparing to enter its first eclipse, which Mission controllers in Darmstadt were following closely.
Published: 14 April 2000
All satellites are designed to face up to unexpected circumstances. XMM-Newton, ESA's new X-ray observatory launched last December, proved the reliability of its onboard systems when the spacecraft placed itself in standby mode on 2 April.
Published: 14 April 2000
The XMM-Newton space observatory has formally been handed over to the science team that will be operating it for the years to come. Following a commissioning phase review, held at the mission's Science Operations Centre in Villafranca on 8/9 March, ESA management has declared that the commissioning of the spacecraft and the instruments is completed. Operations can now commence with the start of the calibration of its science instruments, essential before regular science observations can begin in June.
Published: 16 March 2000
During operations to fine tune the XMM-Newton Optical Monitor, theobservatory was pointed close to the Large Magallenic Cloud galaxy, to a location where 20 years ago ESA's first X-ray observatory, Exosat,discovered a bright new X-ray source which astronomers named EXO 0748-676. This source consists of two stars orbiting around each other in only 3.8 hours. One of these stars is a neutron star, essentially a giant atomic nucleus 20 km in diameter. This star is so dense that a teaspoon full would weigh a hundred million tonnes! The other star is a normal star, much like the Sun, but distorted into an egg-like shape by the intense gravitational field of the neutron star. Gas is being pulled from the normal star and is falling onto the neutron star via a giant swirling accretion disk. As the gas spirals in the accretion disk and falls onto the neutron star it reaches temperatures of several million degrees - hot enough to emit X-rays.
Published: 9 March 2000
An unexpected spin-off from the XMM-Newton commissioning phase, thespacecraft has snapped a picture of mother Earth. The image was takenwith one of the two Small Visual Monitoring Cameras (VMC).
Published: 17 February 2000
At the press conference to present XMM-Newton's first images, ESA announced its third XMM-Newton competition, Stargazing. This competition is open to young Europeans between 16 and 18 years old, in the final two years of secondary school. The challenge is to make a proposal for a scientific observation with ESA's XMM-Newton Space Observatory.
Published: 10 February 2000
The first pictures from ESA's new X-ray space observatory fully demonstrate the capabilities of the spacecraft's telescopes and its science instruments. The images were officially presented on 9 February at the XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre in Villafranca, Spain.
Published: 9 February 2000
The European Space Agency's X-ray space observatory has taken its very first pictures giving new views on the Universe. The commissioning images confirm that the XMMspacecraft, its X-ray telescopes and science instruments are functioning perfectly, to the great satisfaction of all involved.
Published: 2 February 2000
Following a suggestion from members of the Flight Dynamics department at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany,an amateur astronomer in Australia has managed to take a picture of XMM in orbit.
Published: 18 January 2000
All of XMM's instruments have been switched ON and their computer software loaded on board. The first task has been to check the health of the instruments repeating the engineering test procedure used on the ground before launch. This has confirmed that all instruments remain in the same condition as before launch. This was also the 'acid test' to verify that the instrument data sent by the spacecraft were reaching Villafranca and were being processed correctly. On 4 January, to everyone's relief, the first data arrived and were processed correctly by the new software installed at the XMM Science Observations Centre. Watching this important event, XMM project manager Robert Laini commented: "I saw big smiles all around when EPIC and later test images appeared on the screen."
Published: 6 January 2000
The European Space Agency's new X-ray space telescope has reached its operational orbit less than a week after being launched from Kourou on 10 December. The XMM spacecraft, which is being controlled by teams at the European Space Operations Centre, ESOC Darmstadt Germany, is functioning admirably.
Published: 19 December 1999
On 16 December at 11:30 UT, the final orbit trim for XMM was performed on schedule, bringing the spacecraft into its operational orbit, from where it will be ready to start the instrument commissioning phase, due to commence in the new year. XMM Ground Segment Manager Howard Nye describes the atmosphere during this final manoeuvre...
Published: 17 December 1999
During the XMM early orbit phase manoeuvres, which have raised the orbit perigee to 7000 km, small micro-cameras on the outside of the spacecraft have been able to take exceptional views of XMM and of its thrusters in action.
Published: 16 December 1999
Some very special "rocket fuel" was awaiting the B-team XMM flight controllers when they came off shift, midday on December 13. Swedish staff had organised a gathering to celebrate Santa Lucia, Sweden's traditional remembrance of the Sicilian saint.
Published: 12 December 1999
Over the weekend, the extreme tension of the launch itself disappeared. The XMM satellite is now in the safe hands of the ESOC control teams. In their Main Control Room, XMM has yet to be chalked up on the record board. It is the 42nd mission to be handled by ESOC since 1968.
Published: 12 December 1999
4-Dec-2022 22:04 UT

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