The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer

a NASA mission originally scheduled for launch in August 1995, but ultimately launching at 8:48 EST Saturday December 30, 1995, is designed to facilitate the study of time variability in the emission of X-ray sources with moderate spectral resolution. Time scales from microseconds to months are covered in an instantaneous spectral range from 2 to 250 keV. It is designed for a required life time of two years, a goal of five years.

The mission carries two pointed instruments, the Proportional Counter Array (PCA) developed by GSFC to cover the lower part of the energy range, and the High Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE) developed by UCSD covering the the upper energy range. These instruments are equipped with collimators yielding a FWHM of one degree.

MIT is providing an All-Sky Monitor (ASM) that will scan about 80% of the sky every orbit, allowing monitoring at time scales of 90 minutes or longer, and an on board Experiment Data System (EDS) which processes the data from PCA and ASM. (see below for technical information and the current status of these instruments) The ASM will observe the brightest known X-ray sources for variability and also alert the community when new sources appear.

There is a quick tour of the spacecraft available.

For a broad overview of the mission, please read our brochure:

The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer - Taking the Pulse of the Universe (1992)

The Science Operations Center at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will manage the mission science operations. More information about the spacecraft and the instruments can be had from NASA HEASARC. The Guest Obeserver Facility contains useful information about doing science with RXTE.