NASA’s NuSTAR Mission Lifts Off

NASA’s Nuclear  Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched into the morning skies over the  central Pacific Ocean at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) Wednesday,  beginning its mission to unveil secrets of buried black holes and other exotic  objects.
“We have been eagerly awaiting the  launch of this novel X-ray observatory,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s  Astrophysics Division Director. “With its unprecedented spatial and  spectral resolution to the previously poorly explored hard X-ray region of the  electromagnetic spectrum, NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and  will provide complementary data to NASA’s larger missions, including Fermi,  Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer.”
NuSTAR will use a unique set of  eyes to see the highest energy X-ray light from the cosmos. The observatory can  see through gas and dust to reveal black holes lurking in our Milky Way galaxy,  as well as those hidden in the hearts of faraway galaxies.
“NuSTAR  will help us find the most elusive and most energetic black holes, to help us  understand the structure of the universe,” said Fiona Harrison, the  mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in  Pasadena.
The observatory began its journey  aboard a L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft, operated by Orbital Sciences  Corporation, Dulles, Va. NuSTAR was perched atop Orbital’s Pegasus XL rocket,  both of which were strapped to the belly of the Stargazer plane. The plane left  Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean one hour before launch. At 9:00:35  a.m. PDT (12:00:35 p.m. EDT), the rocket dropped, free-falling for five seconds  before firing its first-stage motor.

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