TRW-Built NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory Selected as Editor's Choice in 2000 Discover Magazine Awards for Technological Innovation

Press Release From: TRW, Inc.
Posted: Monday, June 5, 2000

The TRW-built Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA's newest and most powerful X-ray space telescope, has been selected as the winner of the Editor's Choice category of the 2000 Discover Magazine Awards for Technological Innovation.

The NASA/TRW team that designed, built and deployed Chandra for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., will be formally recognized June 24 at a gala awards celebration at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Harvey Tananbaum, director of the Smithsonian Observatory's Chandra X-ray Science Center, Cambridge, Mass., which conducts the Chandra science mission for NASA, will receive the award on behalf of the team.

``The successful launch, deployment and on-orbit operations of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is a testament to the solid partnership between TRW, NASA and the science community that has been enabling NASA's most important space science missions for the past 40 years,'' said Timothy W. Hannemann, executive vice president and general manager, TRW Space & Electronics Group. ``The extraordinary images that Chandra is delivering daily speaks loudly not only to the quality of the science instruments on board, but also to the engineering talents and dedication to mission success exhibited by every member of NASA's Chandra mission team.''

``Chandra has opened a new window for astronomers into the universe of high-energy cosmic events such as pulsars, supernova remnants and black holes,'' said Tananbaum. ``We're now able to create spectacularly detailed images of celestial phenomena whose mere existence we could only hypothesize before.''

Among Chandra's most significant discoveries to date, he lists the detection of a giant ring around the heart of the Crab Nebula, details of the shock wave created by an exploding star and resolution of the high energy X-ray ``glow'' in the universe into millions of specific light sources.

Chandra, named in honor of Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, was launched in July 1999 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and deployed to a highly elliptical Earth orbit. Over the next five years, it will use the world's most powerful X-ray telescope, designed and built by Eastman Kodak, to probe the mysteries of a universe that cannot be seen by the human eye or conventional optical telescopes. Its array of exquisitely polished and aligned mirrors, ground and polished by Raytheon Inc., will allow Chandra to gather and focus X-rays from celestial sources billions of light years away.

Chandra's science instrument module was designed and built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., then integrated with instruments provided by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Penn State University, MIT, Space Research Organization of The Netherlands, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Ball Aerospace also produced Chandra's aspect camera.

The Discover Awards for Technological Innovation, now in their 11th year, are designed to acknowledge the creativity of men, women, corporations and institutions who have reached superior levels of ingenuity. Each year, Discover Magazine's editorial staff reviews thousands of new products and ideas presented in the scientific literature or nominated by leading technology-based companies and research organizations. The editorial staff selects semi-finalists in each of eight technology categories, then submits the nominations to an independent panel of experts. The panel then selects the finalists and the winner in each area of technology.

The Editor's Choice category is reserved for innovations so unique or promising that they go beyond the magazine's established innovation categories by providing a marked advance in their field. Chandra's powerful X-ray telescope can resolve distant images eight times sharper and detect X-ray sources 20 times fainter than any previous X-ray space telescope.

Chandra, along with the rest of the winners, will be listed in the July issue of Discover Magazine, scheduled for delivery to newsstands on June 19. The 2000 award winners will also be featured at the magazine's Web site:

TRW has been designing and producing spacecraft for NASA's most challenging space science missions since 1958. Following the successful launch and deployment of Chandra, the company is currently developing designs and technologies for several of NASA's future space astronomy missions, including the Space Interferometry Mission, the Next Generation Space Telescope and Terrestrial Planet Finder, all of which are part of NASA's Origins program, plus Constellation-X, the successor mission to Chandra, and the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope, the successor mission to the highly successful TRW-built Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

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