xmmlaunch FUGA
Credit: ESA
Upper left: The launch of XMM. Upper right: Picture taken by the FUGA camera showing the telescope tube and one solar array on the left. At the top of the picture, one sees the edges of the now deployed telescope sunshield. What appears as a white boom in centre is in fact one of the fixed lateral sunshield panels, seen side-on. Lower: Picture taken by the IRIS camera shows the other solar array on right. At the bottom of the photograph (below the ESA flags) is the MLI thermal insulation just under the lens of the camera.

The Launch of XMM

The X-ray telescope XMM, the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission, is the second cornerstone of the Horizon 2000 program of the European Space Agency (ESA). The XMM spacecraft was launched by ESA on board an Ariane-5 rocket at 14:32 UTC (9:32 am eastern daylight time) on December 10. The launch was carried live on the world-wide web. The telescope will be put into an elliptical orbit 71,250 miles by 4,300 miles and will take 48 hours to go around the Earth once. The observatory consists of three coaligned high throughput 7.5m focal length telescopes with 6 arc second FWHM (15 arc second HPD) angular resolution. XMM will provide images over a 30 arc minute field of view with moderate spectral resolution using the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC). High-resolution spectral information is provided by the Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS). The observatory also has a coaligned 30cm optical/UV telescope called the Optical Monitor (OM).

Shortly after launch 2 micro-cameras on board XMM were turned on. Provided by OIP (a subsidiary of Delft Sensor Systems Antwerpen, Belgium), the two cameras (10 x 6 x 6cm) each weigh only 430 grams. The cameras are of two types: the FUGA camera has a logarithmic response, with a high dynamic range, providing black and white pictures. The second camera (IRIS) is equipped with a color filter. The field of view of both cameras is fixed (approx. 40 x 40), giving a view along the telescope tube towards the service platform and the solar arrays. The pictures above pictures were taken just under five hours after liftoff, at 19:25 UT (14:25 EDT). XMM was then at an altitude of 55,300 km above the Earth's surface.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified May 26, 2001