In these past two decades, Chandra has made profound discoveries and contributed invaluable information about the cosmos and the wondrous objects within it.
Chandra is part of a rich legacy of telescopes. Its X-ray lineage stretches back to the Space Age when scientists and engineers pioneered instruments that were sent above the Earth’s atmosphere. This allowed astronomers to observe X-rays from cosmic objects for the first time. Each decade has brought new innovations and new capabilities, culminating in Chandra’s launch aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999.
Chandra also has strong astronomical family ties across the electromagnetic spectrum. As part of NASA’s “Great Observatories” program, Chandra was designed and built to observe X-rays alongside the Hubble Space Telescope in ultraviolet, visible and infrared light, the Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light, and the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory in gamma rays.
Today, the quest to explore the Universe is both multiwavelength and multimessenger in nature, with many of the very significant and exciting discoveries requiring information from different types of light as well as gravitational waves and particle physics. In its 20 years of operation, Chandra and X-ray astronomy as a whole have played a pivotal role in uncovering and solving the mysteries of the Universe. We look forward to what the next years may bring.
First Light: Celebrating 20 Years of Chandra Observatory
Credit: Steer Films & NASA/CXC/SAO (NASA's MSFC manages the Chandra program. SAO's CXC controls science operations from Cambridge, Mass., and flight operations from Burlington, Mass.)