American space scientists successfully launched a large observatory satellite from Cape Kennedy on Monday (21 August).
American space scientists successfully launched a large observatory satellite from Cape Kennedy on Monday (21 August). It will study the inter-stellar gas from which stars are formed and X-ray energy sources in space.
Named "Copernicus", the satellite is the heaviest and most expensive unmanned scientific satellite yet launched by the United States. Its the fourth in a series of Orbiting Astronomical Observatories which cost $363 million (GBP148 million Sterling), but only one of the previous launches was successful.
The satellite weighs 4,900 pounds (2,222 kilograms) and was launched on top of an Atlas-Centaur rocket.
It carries equipment provided by Princeton University of the United States and the London University College of Britain. The Princeton experiment will use a 32-inch (82 centimetre) telescope to observe the distribution in deep space of the inter-stellar gas from which stars are formed.
In the London University experiment, smaller telescopes will be used to study the sources of X-ray energy in space. More than two hundred of these sources have already been pin-pointed.
The satellite is named after Nicolaus Copernicus, a fifteenth-century Polish monk who first established that earth was not the centre of the solar system.