NASA Plans Black Hole Finder

Artist's concept of NuSTAR in Orbit
Artist's concept of NuSTAR on orbit. NuSTAR has two identical optics modules in order to increase sensitivity. The background is an image of the galactic center obtained with the Chandra X-ray Observatory. (Image credit: NASA)

A NASA mission to find black holes in our local universe has been restarted after cancellation early last year.

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is expected to expand scientists' understanding of the origins and destinies of stars and galaxies. The project was canceled in February 2006 due to lack of funding.

"We are very excited to be able to restart the NuSTAR mission, which we expect to be launched in 2011," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "We are getting more and more from the science budget we have, and the restart of the highly-valued NuSTAR mission is an example of that."

The spacecraft will map areas of the sky in the light of high-energy X-rays and have 500 times the sensitivity of previous instruments that detect black holes.

NuSTAR is a part of NASA's Explorer Program, which aims to provide frequent, low-cost access to space for missions with small- to mid-sized spacecraft. Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology is the NuSTAR principal investigator.

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