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29 July 2010 The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR)
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The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will carry the first focusing hard X-ray (6 - 80 keV) telescope to orbit. NuSTAR will offer a factor 50 - 100 sensitivity improvement compared to previous collimated or coded mask imagers that have operated in this energy band. In addition, NuSTAR provides sub-arcminute imaging with good spectral resolution over a 12-arcminute eld of view. After launch, NuSTAR will carry out a two-year primary science mission that focuses on four key programs: studying the evolution of massive black holes through surveys carried out in fields with excellent multiwavelength coverage, understanding the population of compact objects and the nature of the massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, constraining the explosion dynamics and nucleosynthesis in supernovae, and probing the nature of particle acceleration in relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei. A number of additional observations will be included in the primary mission, and a guest observer program will be proposed for an extended mission to expand the range of scientic targets. The payload consists of two co-aligned depth-graded multilayer coated grazing incidence optics focused onto a solid state CdZnTe pixel detectors. To be launched in early 2012 on a Pegasus rocket into a low-inclination Earth orbit, NuSTAR largely avoids SAA passage, and will therefore have low and stable detector backgrounds. The telescope achieves a 10.14-meter focal length through on-orbit deployment of an extendable mast. An aspect and alignment metrology system enable reconstruction of the absolute aspect and variations in the telescope alignment resulting from mast exure during ground data processing. Data will be publicly available at GSFC's High Energy Archive Research Center (HEASARC) following validation at the science operations center located at Caltech.
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