Artist impression of RXTE telescope
|Website||RXTE home page|
|Mission duration||16 years, 6 days|
MIT (All-Sky Monitor)
|Launch mass||3,200 kg (7,100 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||13:48, December 30, 1995 (UTC)|
|Rocket||Delta II 7920|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral SLC-17A|
|End of mission|
|Deactivated||January 5, 2012|
|Decay date||April 30, 2018|
|Semi-major axis||6,753 km (4,196 mi)|
|Perigee altitude||380.9 km (236.7 mi)|
|Apogee altitude||384.5 km (238.9 mi)|
|Argument of perigee||256.7652 degrees|
|Mean anomaly||103.2545 degrees|
|Mean motion||14.04728277 rev/day|
|Epoch||27 April 2016, 10:21:58 UTC|
|Wavelengths||2–250 keV (X-ray)|
The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) was a satellite that observed the time variation of astronomical X-ray sources, named after physicist Bruno Rossi. The RXTE had three instruments—an All Sky Monitor, the Proportional Counter Array, and the High-Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE). The RXTE observed X-rays from black holes, neutron stars, X-ray pulsars and X-ray bursts. It was funded as part of the Explorer program, and is sometimes also called Explorer 69.
Observations from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer have been used as evidence for the existence of the frame-dragging effect predicted by the theory of general relativity. RXTE results have, as of late 2007, been used in more than 1400 scientific papers.
In January 2006, it was announced that Rossi had been used to locate a candidate intermediate-mass black hole named M82 X-1. In February 2006, data from RXTE was used to prove that the diffuse background X-ray glow in our galaxy comes from innumerable, previously undetected white dwarfs and from other stars' coronae. In April 2008, RXTE data was used to infer the size of the smallest known black hole.
RXTE ceased science operations on 3 January 2012.
NASA scientists said that the decommissioned RXTE would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere "between 2014 and 2023". Later it became clear that the satellite would re-enter in late April or early May 2018, and the spacecraft fell out of orbit on April 30, 2018.
The ASM consisted of three wide-angle shadow cameras equipped with proportional counters with a total collecting area of 90 square cm. The instrumental properties were:
It was built by the CSR at MIT. The principal investigator was Dr. Hale Bradt.
The PCA was an array of five proportional counters with a total collecting area of 6500 square cm. The instrument was built by the EUD (formerly 'LHEA') at GSFC. The PCA principal investigator was Dr. Jean H. Swank.
The instrumental properties were:
The HEXTE consisted of two clusters each containing four phoswich scintillation detectors. Each cluster could "rock" (beamswitch) along mutually orthogonal directions to provide background measurements 1.5 or 3.0 degrees away from the source every 16 to 128 s. In addition, the input was sampled at 8 microseconds so as to detect time varying phenomena. Automatic gain control was provided by using a 241
radioactive source mounted in each detector's field of view. The HEXTE's basic properties were:
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