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A Look inside NASA's Next X-Ray Observatory [Slide Show]

The NuSTAR satellite will be the first space telescope capable of focusing high-energy x-rays into high-quality imagery--a feat that requires some incredibly intricate optics

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AROUND THE BEND:

An engineer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., examines a thin glass sheet destined for one of NuSTAR's optics. Each piece of glass, akin to the type used in laptop and cell phone screens, starts out flat.....[ More ]

A TELESCOPING TELESCOPE:

At launch, NuSTAR can be no larger than two meters long and one meter in diameter to fit on board a Pegasus rocket. Once it is in orbit, NuSTAR's extendable mast will deploy, folding out to about the length of a school bus with the optics at one end and the detector at the other.....[ More ]

CATCHING SOME RAYS:

This is one of two hard-x-ray detector units developed at the California Institute of Technology. The detectors will sit on the opposite end of a long extending mast from the optics and will record the images that the optics capture, much like film in a camera records optical light captured by a lens.....[ More ]

INNER SPACE:

This shot shows the front of a NuSTAR optic, with the spacers neatly stacked up between each layer of glass. The spacers create tiny gaps through which x-rays will pass once NuSTAR is launched and reaches its low Earth orbit destination next year.....[ More ]

UNDER PRESSURE:

After completing each concentric layer of glass, engineers slide a bar into place, guided by the wheels at either end of the assembly machine, to put pressure on the glass while the epoxy is curing.....[ More ]

MIRROR IN THE ROUND:

One of NuSTAR's two mirrors, or optics, is assembled inside a clean room at Columbia University's Nevis Laboratories in Irvington, N.Y. Each optic will have 133 concentric shells of reflective glass separated by spacers that are held in place by epoxy.....[ More ]

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