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NASA to launch school-bus-sized space telescope to hunt black holes (+video)

NASA's $165 million Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission will scan the skies for X-ray emissions from black holes.  

Scientists explain how NASA's newest mission of exploration will gather important data about one of the Universe's most interesting and perplexing phenomena.
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NASA is counting down to the planned launch of its newest space telescope today (June 13) on a mission to search for black holes in the universe.

The $165 million Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission will hunt for black holes by scanning X-ray light at higher energies than any spacecraft before.

The NuSTAR telescope is set to launch atop an unmanned Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket, which will be carried into launch position by an L-1011 "Stargazer" jet aircraft taking off from the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. The launch was originally slated for 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT), but has now been pushed back by half an hour to noon EDT (1600 GMT) to allow technicians to check out a minor technical issue. The issue has now been cleared, but the timeline is slightly delayed from the extra work. The vehicle has a four-hour launch window available today.

Forecasters predict a 90 to 95 percent chance of good weather for the launch, with only a slim chance of rain threatening the liftoff.

The NuSTAR project is one of NASA's Small Explorer missions, and is expected to spend two years mapping the universe's black hole population.


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