Q&A: Chandra Mission
How much would it cost to buy time on (or be able to use) the
The Chandra telescope is an international observatory.
Approximately every 12-18 months, NASA issues an "Announcement
of Opportunity" which invites astronomers to write proposals to
use the Chandra observatory. The proposals are collected and
evaluated by panels of other astronomers. The best ones are
picked and sent to the Chandra X-Ray Center which schedules the
observations. The competition is very stiff. In the last
proposal round, 835 proposals were submitted, and somewhat over
100 were chosen. The time of an observation can run a few days.
The winners of observation time are also granted some money by
NASA for data analysis expenses. Typically this would include
the salary of a graduate student or a post doc to help with the
data analysis, or perhaps money to buy a computer. The scientist
has up to one year to analyze his data before it is put in a
public archive and anybody can access it. There is a special set
of software developed by the Chandra X-Ray Center, and other
kinds of analysis software that astronomers have to learn how to
use in order to analyze and understand the Chandra data. They
write papers that are published in professional journals or are
delivered at conferences.