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Q&A: Chandra Mission

Q:
How much would it cost to buy time on (or be able to use) the Chandra telescope?

A:
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.

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