Images & Movies

Images of RXTE from Assembly to Orbit


1991 Promotion Video

The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) celebrated its 15-year launch anniversary on December 30, 2010 and operated until 2012. This video, produced four years before launch in 1991, highlights the features and capabilities of the the RXTE, and is still largely applicable today. The mission had the primary scientific objective to study the temporal and broad-band spectral phenomena associated with stellar and galactic systems containing compact objects in the energy range 2--200 KeV, and in time scales from microseconds to years. The scientific instruments consisted of two pointed instruments, the Proportional Counter Array (PCA) and the High-Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE), and the All Sky Monitor (ASM). Over its productive lifetime, there have been more than 2000 RXTE-related articles in scientific journals and more than 90 RXTE-related Ph.D. theses.


The Groovie Movie


  • The High Energy Groovie Movie - check out RXTE's first music video, featuring black holes, pulsars, and the night sky viewed with "X-ray eyes."


RXTE Launch: Movies and Computer Animations


  • RXTE Prelaunch Activities [2.4 MB .avi | 2.2 MB .mov]
  • Launch of the RXTE satellite [2.1 MB .avi | 1.8 MB .mov]
  • Launch of the RXTE Satellite With Narration from Mission Control: [2.1 MB .avi | 1.9 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Jettison of Delta rocket boosters. Watch the boosters fall away. Be sure to look at the rocket's tail closely.
    [395 KB .avi | 339 KB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: Deployment after launch of XTE solar array panels. RXTE was put into a Low Earth Orbit by a Delta launch vehicle. After separation from the Delta second stage, both solar arrays were deployed. The high gain antennas were then deployed one at a time. [2.1 MB .avi | 1.8 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: View of the RXTE satellite fully deployed. The scientific objective of RXTE was to make temporal and spectral studies of celestial X-ray sources in the 2 to 200 keV spectrum. RXTE also performed continual all-sky surveys to acquire long term plots of source intensities and to observe transient phenomena. [1.9 MB .avi | 1.7 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: The RXTE satellite in orbit. RXTE is a three axis stabilized spacecraft with two high-gain communication antennas that continually track TDRSS east and TDRSS west. As it orbits the Earth, the spacecraft remains inertially fixed, the solar arrays normal to the sun-line, and instrument detectors pointed to their target.
    [1.1 MB .avi | 1.2 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: The All-Sky Monitor (ASM) Instrument. The All-Sky Monitor, or ASM, independently rotates and will continuously scan 70% of the sky in each orbit. Data are observed in the 2-10 keV energy range. These data are used by the science team to identify new sources or changes of known sources. [1.5 MB .avi | 1.3 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: The Proportional Counter Array (PCA) Instrument. The Proportional Counter Array, or PCA, has five proportional counter units that observe sources in the X-ray energy range of 2-60 keV. The PCA data will be used to study changes in source behavior on day-to-year time scales. [1.2 MB .avi | 1.1 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: The High Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE) Instrument. The High Energy X-ray Timing Experiment, or HEXTE, collects data in the 20-200 keV X-ray energy range. Two independent clusters alternately move on and off X-ray sources. [1.2 MB .avi | 1.1 MB .mov | Transcript]
  • Animation: XTE repositions to observe a new target. At a pre-specified time, the RXTE attitude control system receives instructions from the onboard computer memory to rotate the spacecraft body to align the instrument detectors to a new target. To observe a new target, the spacecraft will rotate about the axis that provides the shortest path to the new target. This is known as the eigenaxis. [2.2 MB .avi | 1.9 MB .mov | Transcript]