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Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer



The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) was launched into a 540 km circular orbit at 0 deg inclination. During IXPE's two-year mission, targets such as active galactic nuclei (AGN), microquasars, pulsars and pulsar wind nebulae, magnetars, accreting X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, and the Galactic center will be studied.

NASA announced the selection of IXPE on 03 January 2017, with these words from Dr. Paul Hertz, the Astrophysics Division Director for the Science Mission Directorate: "NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. IXPE will open a new window on the universe for astronomers to peer through. Today, we can only guess what we will find."

The cost of IXPE was $188 million, which included the cost of the launch vehicle and operations and data analysis after launch. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Martin Weisskopf of NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, AL. Ball Aerospace, Broomfield Colorado, is providing the spacecraft and the services of mission integration. The X-ray polarization detectors will be provided by the Italian Space Agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). Dr. Brian Ramsey is leading the effort to produce the grazing-incidence X-ray mirrors at NASA/MSFC.

Alternate Names

  • 49954
  • Explorer 97
  • IXPE
  • SMEX/Explorer 97

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2021-12-09
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 Full Thrust
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 330 kg
Nominal Power: 300 W

Funding Agencies

  • Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italy)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Martin C. WeisskopfMission Principal InvestigatorNASA Marshall Space Flight
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