Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2021 December 22

Launch of the IXPE Observatory

Image Credit & Copyright: Jordan Sirokie

Explanation: Birds don’t fly this high. Airplanes don’t go this fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. Pictured here, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space CenterFlorida earlier this month carrying the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). IXPE is scheduled to observe high-energy objects such as neutron stars, black holes, and the centers of distant galaxies to better determine the physics and geometries that create and control them. From a standing start, the 300,000+ kilogram rocket ship lifted IXPE up to circle the Earth, where the outside air is too thin to breathe. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth every few days.

 

Launch Update: James Webb Space Telescope