The Corner

Chandra & The Universe

I took a wonderful astronomy course in college, and a friend of mine is an X-ray astronomer. This has left me with a taste for the sort of astronomy we don’t often hear about–astronomy that works through wavelengths like radio waves and X-rays. So I was fascinated to see that Chandra, the X-ray satellite observatory, has uncovered some important information about the formation of solar systems. In “Mission Worth It?” I expressed some doubts about our plans to head for Mars. One problem I didn’t mention is the danger that the money spent on a Mars project will starve out the basic science done by vastly cheaper and relatively unsung satellites like Chandra. Whether we go to Mars or not, I hope manned space projects won’t be allowed to kill relatively inexpensive, productive, and scientifically very important fields like X-ray astronomy.

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