Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NASA's Northrop Grumman-Built Chandra X-Ray Observatory Marks 10th Anniversary On-Orbit

NASA's Northrop Grumman-Built Chandra X-Ray Observatory Marks 10th
Anniversary On-Orbit

Anniversary Marks a Decade of Providing Data for Groundbreaking
Astronomy Discoveries

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – July 22, 2009 – Chandra X-ray
Observatory, NASA's flagship mission for X-ray astronomy built by
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), was launched into orbit by the
Space Shuttle 10 years ago on July 23, 1999 and almost immediately
began to expand the frontiers of astronomy.

Built by Northrop Grumman for NASA's Marshall Space Flight
Center, Chandra's first light image gave astronomers their first
glimpse of the point source at the center of the supernova remnant
Cassiopeia A. Since then, Chandra has significantly expanded the
frontiers of astronomy, providing insight into the birth and death of
stars and the lifecycles of galaxies. Chandra has produced more than
9,800 observations and logged more than 60,000 hours of on-target
science observing time.

Data from Chandra gave scientists the first glimpse of a
supernova remnant containing a black hole, and the shadow of a small
galaxy as it was cannibalized by a larger one. The Observatory has
revolutionized our understanding of dark energy, a mysterious force
that is pushing galaxies apart and causing the universe to expand. Just
two years ago, Chandra uncovered evidence of a major new class of
supernova and revealed a blast from a huge black hole at the center of
the Milky Way.

"Chandra has significantly expanded the world's scientific
knowledge base about the nature of our universe," said Dave DiCarlo,
sector vice president and general manager of the company's Space
Systems Division. "Its has opened up new vistas of study for the
world's astronomers and provided technology and integration and test
techniques that we're using to develop the next generation of space
observatories. Chandra has exceeded its five-year design life by 100
percent and continues to observe celestial phenomena."

The Northrop Grumman team developed innovative technical
solutions when building Chandra. These technical solutions include
precision alignment of large mirrors; precision integration and test
techniques; and techniques for precision structural stability.
Extensive testing and pathfinders were used to validate the design and
reduce the risk of building the complex satellite and many of the
lessons learned are now being applied to new missions, such as the
James Webb Space Telescope.

On orbit, Chandra satisfied or bettered all initial 21 key
performance measures. Furthermore, ten years into its mission, Chandra
continues to perform near flawlessly.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating Chandra's 10 year milestone
and continue to be impressed with the superb performance of the
spacecraft hardware and the flight software developed and built by
Northrop Grumman," said Roger Brissenden, Chandra X-ray Center Manager.
"Under the excellent guidance of the Northrop Grumman flight operations
team, Chandra has given us a near optimal science mission so far, and
we are very excited to be embarking on its next decade of discovery."

In addition to fulfilling its promise illuminating the stars,
Chandra has also shone brightly on Earth. The teams responsible for the
design and execution of the Chandra mission have received many
prestigious awards, including a Nobel Prize for Chandra's co-creator
Ricardo Giacconi and for members of the Northrop Grumman team; the NASA
Public Service Group Achievement Award; and a "Silver Snoopy" award.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security
company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products,
and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems,
shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial
customers worldwide.


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