X-ray telescope for deployment on moon could soon be a reality

November 14th, 2007 - 1:58 am ICT by admin  

The telescope, called MagEX, which stands for “Magnetosheath Explorer in X-rays”, is an international collaboration between scientists from the US, the Czech Republic, and the University of Leicester, and will study the magnetosheath, the magnetic ’shield’ that protects the Earth from solar winds.

Solar winds are the high-energy particles that continuously flow out from the Sun, and without this shield, life on Earth, as we know it, would not exist.

According to a release by the university, the telescope will be quite compact, being less than one metre tall. It has been designed to be placed on the lunar surface, facing back towards the Earth.

Scientists say the moon is the ideal location for measuring the X-ray emission of the magnetosheath.

Looking from the Moon, the Earth’s magnetosheath covers an area about 30 degrees across on the sky. The magnetosheath glows as solar wind particles strike gas trapped within the region, however, the glow is not in visible light but in X-rays, which require specialised instruments for detection.

Lead scientist, Dr Steven Sembay from the Leicester University, said: “MagEX will be unique in that it will be able to view our Earth’s entire magnetosheath for the first time”.

“The magnetosheath is not static, but contracts and expands quite dramatically as the solar wind pressure changes during solar storms. The view from the moon should be quite spectacular,” he said. (ANI)

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