Chandra X - ray Observatory and an asteroid '2011 MD'

Telescope is one of the important discoveries helped us to know and understand more about our universe and helped Galileo to propose the solar system with sun at the center and other planets revolving around the sun. As the interest in astronomy was increased, new technologies were combined to build powerful telescopes. Knowing it is impossible to get good quality pictures and information from space, placing telescopes in the orbit of sun was important as telescopes on earth are not powerful enough to get more information as earth’s atmosphere absorbs vast majority of X – rays making them not detectable from earth based telescopes. One after the other the X – ray telescopes were launched and placed into orbit from 1978 (Einstein HEAO – 2, the first X – ray imaging telescope launched by NASA) But largest of these are Hubble space telescope, Compton Gamma Observatory, Spitzer space telescope and the Chandra X – ray observatory.

Chandra X – ray observatory was launched in 1999 by Columbia shuttle (STS 93) and it was placed into orbit with a plan and hope that it will work for five years but even after eleven years the telescope is working fine and sending images to the data center on earth at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory with the same spirit with which it started to send pictures from its launch. May be it is one of the few telescopes which is working even after the date of expiry. Earlier to name Chandra, the telescope was called Advanced X – ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF) later convinced by the contributions made by an eminent Astrophysicist Dr Subramanyan Chandrasekhar NASA renamed AXAF to Chandra in honor of this scientist. Chandra also means ‘Luminary’ or ‘Moon’ in Sanskrit. Dr Chandrasekhar was an Indian born, educated in United Kingdom and served University of Chicago at USA till his retirement. By his research the fields of Stellar structures, Stellar dynamics, and radiative transfer gained importance and helped others to look forward. One of his famous contributions to Astrophysics is popularly known as ‘Chandrasekhar Limit’ found in all literatures related to evolution of stars.

Scientists are expecting that Chandra will work for few more years. Hope on the orbit there will be no traffic jams caused by Telescopes as happened in case of satellites. Accident between satellites in the orbit last year not only created curiosity but also it was a nightmare for many scientists thinking on safety of satellites in orbit and to avoid orbital accidents. It may also lay a foundation for new subject in Engineering curriculum, Traffic Management of Satellites in the coming years!

One of space telescopes has found that today an asteroid named '2011 MD' will pass very close to Earth at a distance of twelve thousand kilometers and it is visible by simple telescopes. Scientists have assured there is no harm even if it enters earth’s atmosphere, it will burn and pours as ashes. If small piece of Asteroid falls on Earth also it is of not much interest as there is no one to tie it to any entrance or door as tied in entrance of Bijapur Gol Gumbaz by its rulers.


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