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.
|Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer|
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 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:
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:
Intelsat 704 | Express 1 | Tsikada 1 · Faisat 1 · Astrid 1 | Apstar 2 | USA-108 | STS-63 (SPARTAN-204 · ODERACS 2A · ODERACS 2B · ODERACS 2C · ODERACS 2D · ODERACS 2E · ODERACS 2F | Progress M-26 | Foton #10 | STS-67 | Kosmos 2306 | Kosmos 2307 · Kosmos 2308 · Kosmos 2309 | Soyuz TM-21 | SFU · Himawari 5 | Kosmos 2310 | Intelsat 705 | Kosmos 2311 | USA-109 | Gurwin 1 · EKA-2 · UNAMSAT-A | Brasilsat B2 · Hot Bird 1 | Orbcomm FM1 · Orbcomm FM2 · OrbView-1 | Ofek-3 | AMSC-1 | Progress M-27 | ERS-2 | USA-110 | Intelsat 706 | Spektr | GOES 9 | Kosmos 2312 | USA-111 | Kosmos 2313 | DirecTV-3 | STEP-3 | STS-71 | Kosmos 2314 | Kosmos 2315 | Helios 1A · Cerise · UPMSat | USA-112 | STS-70 (TDRS-7) | Progress M-28 | Kosmos 2316 · Kosmos 2317 · Kosmos 2318 | USA-113 | Interbol 1 · Maigon 4 | PAS-4 | Koreasat 1 | Molniya 3-59 | GEMStar 1 | JCSAT-3 | N-STAR a | Kosmos 2319 | Sich-1 · FASat-Alfa | Soyuz TM-22 | STS-69 (SPARTAN-201 · WSF) | Telstar 402R | Resurs-F2 #10 | Kosmos 2320 | Kosmos 2321 | Progress M-29 | Luch-1 | Astra 1E | STS-73 | USA-114 | METEOR | Kosmos 2322 | Radarsat-1 · SURFSAT | USA-115 | STS-74 (SO) | ISO | Gals 2 | AsiaSat 2 | SOHO | USA-116 | Télécom 2C · INSAT-2C | Kosmos 2323 · Kosmos 2324 · Kosmos 2325 | Galaxy 3R | Progress M-30 | Kosmos 2326 | IRS-1C · Skipper | EchoStar I | RXTE
Payloads are separated by bullets ( · ), launches by pipes ( | ). Manned flights are indicated in bold text. Uncatalogued launch failures are listed in italics. Payloads deployed from other spacecraft are denoted in brackets.