There are many reasons why humans achieved all what they did. At every stage, each of these reasons has come in and pivoted us towards a higher platform. Now, while the said reasons were surely instrumental in our progression, we must also acknowledge certain other driving forces in play here. For instance, human evolution would have looked a lot different, if it wasn’t for our individual curiosity. In fact, this curiosity has fetched us milestones that were not even on our radar initially, and the biggest example of it is, of course, technology. Technology appeared on the scene amidst some serious doubt around its long-term future, but all those doubts got squashed rather sensationally when we saw the creation turbo-charging various areas of our lives. It did so by injecting inventive ideas throughout the spectrum, thus really going all out to alter the way things are done from top to bottom. Apart from laying new foundations, however, it also revived some old ambitions of the humankind, with one such ambition being space exploration. The possibility of learning every secret that the outer space holds has long fascinated humans. Hence, time and again, we have tried to access those secrets through a variety of ways, and a similar attempt was recently made by NASA.
On Thursday, NASA officially launched its Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) into space. Fulfilled in collaboration with Italian Space Agency, the project will look to study and measure X-ray polarization. As a part of the study, IXPE will observe over 40 celestial bodies in a bid to understand the dynamics that concern celestial events like supernova explosions and violent collisions. Furthermore, the project will focus a bit more extensively on researching black holes, how they spin, and whether they really have a history of feeding on their surroundings or is it just a myth.
If we talk regarding the make-up of IXPE, it includes three identical telescopes designed to collect X-ray light emanating from different celestial objects. Once the light is successfully collected, mirrors inside the telescopes will focus it into detectors, thus facilitating the measurement of polarization content. The purpose influencing such an undertaking is to create a knowledge pool about these rays that stretches from their origins to their present nature.
“IXPE will help us test and refine our theories of how the universe works. There may be even more exciting answers ahead than the ones we’ve hypothesized. Better yet, we may find whole lists of new questions to ask!” said Dr. Martin Weisskopf, IXPE’s principal investigator.
Sent into space riding a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, IXPE is now poised to start a two-year long study.