Einstein Observatory

Einstein Observatory

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Einstein Observatory was the first fully imaging X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

 put into space and the second of NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's three High Energy Astrophysical Observatories. Named HEAO B before launch, the observatory's name was changed to honor Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 upon its successfully attaining orbit.


The Einstein Observatory, HEAO-2, was launched on November 13, 1978, from Cape Canaveral, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Cape Canaveral is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The population was 8,829 at the 2000 census. As of 2008, the estimated population according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 10,147...

, on an Atlas-Centaur SLV-3D booster rocket into a near-circular orbit with an initial altitude slightly above 500 km. Its orbital inclination orbit was 23.5 degrees

The Einstein Observatory carried a single large grazing-incidence
Wolter telescope
A Wolter telescope is a telescope for X-rays using only grazing incidence optics. Visible light telescopes are built with lenses or parabolic mirrors at nearly normal incidence. Neither works well for X-rays. Lenses for visible light are made of a transparent material with an index of refraction...

 focusing X-ray telescope that provided unprecedented levels of sensitivity (hundreds of times better than previously achieved) and arc-second angular resolution of point sources and extended objects. It had instruments sensitive in the 0.2 to 3.5 keV energy range. A collection of four focal-plane instruments was installed in the satellite:
  • HRI, or High Resolution Imaging camera, 0.15-3 keV
  • IPC, or Imaging Proportional Counter, 0.4 to 4 keV
  • SSS, or Solid State Spectrometer, 0.5 to 4.5 keV
  • FPCS, or Bragg Focal Plane Crystal Spectrometer
  • MPC, Monitor Proportional Counter, 1-20 keV
  • BBFS, Broad Band Filter Spectrometer
  • OGS, Objective grating spectrometer

The Einstein Observatory satellite re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up on March 25, 1982.

See also

  • HEAO Program
    HEAO Program
    The High Energy Astronomy Observatory Program was a NASA program of the late 1970s and early 1980s that included a series of three large low-Earth-orbiting spacecraft for X-ray and Gamma-Ray astronomy and Cosmic-Ray investigations. After launch, they were denoted HEAO 1, HEAO 2 , and HEAO 3,...

  • High Energy Astronomy Observatory 1
  • High Energy Astronomy Observatory 3
    High Energy Astronomy Observatory 3
    The last of NASA's three High Energy Astronomy Observatories, HEAO 3 was launched 20 September 1979 on an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle, into a nearly circular, 43.6 degree inclination low-Earth orbit with an initial perigee of 486.4 km....

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