Insight-HXMT officially Begins Science Operation

China’s first X-ray astronomy satellite, the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), also known as Insight, completed its five-month period of in-orbit calibration and test observations and was officially handed over to the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) for science operation on January 30th, 2018.

During the commissioning period, the satellite functioned well and all the technical parameters met the design specifications. The effective detecting energy range, energy resolution and time resolution exceeded the design parameters. The energy resolution of the High Energy X-ray telescope (HE) and the Low Energy X-ray telescope (LE) match the quality of the best such instruments internationally.

In the last five months, Insight joined with the NuSTAR, INTEGRAL and Swift satellites in a series of tests, and obtained a large amount of observational data, including a survey of the galactic plane, neutron stars, black holes, and solar flares, and detected more than 30 gamma-ray bursts. Insight monitored the source area of the gravitational wave event GW170817 thoroughly, with the largest effective area and highest time resolution of all the instruments in the 0.2-5 MeV range. This significantly contributed to the global campaign which led to the first observation of a binary neutron-star merger (GW170817).

In June 2016, the Insight satellite team released their first announcement on the core scientific observation proposals. A total of 90 proposals were received from 16 institutes, colleges and universities, with a total demand for nearly 7 years of observation.

The results of the proposal evaluations were announced at the first scientific conference for HXMT users in January. Following review and selection, observations for the first year of operation of the satellite have been scheduled.

China's plan for high energy astrophysical space observations, "Discovering the Extreme Universe", has three major steps. Following Insight, the second project is the enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry mission (eXTP), which is currently in research and development and is scheduled for launch in 2025. The final step includes two satellites, Hot Universe Baryon Survey (HUBS) and Space Cosmic microwave background Polarimetry Telescope (SCPT), scheduled for launch in 2030 and 2036 respectively.

Insight was successfully launched on June 15th 2017 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Weighing nearly 2.5 metric tons, the telescope operates in a 550 km near-Earth orbit. It is jointly funded by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

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HXMT satellite has been launched succesefully

HXMT satellite has been launched succesefully at 11 a.m. on June 15 from Jiuquan, China.




HXMT Satellite Payloads Pass Delivery Review

The payload subsystem of the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) satellite passed its delivery review on 8 August.

The review meeting was held by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) that is responsible for the development of the satellite. After listening to the reports and discussion, the review board concluded that all the functions and ports meet with the design requirements. This marks the completion of all research and development work on the payload. The HXMT satellite is planned to launch at the end of this year from the Jiuquan satellite launch center.

The Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) is leading the development of the HXMT project as China’s first X-ray astronomical satellite. Based on their innovative direct demodulation image reconstruction method, IHEP scientists LI Tipei and WU Mei proposed this project.

There are three main payloads onboard HXMT, the high energy X-ray telescope (20-250 keV, 5100 cm2), the medium energy X-ray telescope (5-30 keV, 952 cm2), and the low energy X-ray telescope (1-15 keV, 384 cm2).

The main scientific objectives of HXMT are to scan the Galactic Plane to find new transient sources and to monitor the known variable sources, and to observe X-ray binaries to study the dynamics and emission mechanism in strong gravitational or magnetic fields.

                                 HXMT Satellite Payloads Pass Delivery Review (Image by IHEP)

HXMT Workshop Successfully Held at IHEP

The Workshop on Hard X-ray Modulator Telescope (HXMT) was successfully held at IHEP on April 24th, 2015. More than 40 experts from home and abroad attended the workshop.
The workshop discussed the payload and calibration status of HXMT. The experts spoke highly of the team efforts on the work of ground calibrations, and put forward valuable suggestions on the orbit calibrations as well. Agreement was also achieved on the cross calibrations and the relevant studies.
The workshop was a full success. It was unanimously agreed that this workshop would give a strong push to the R&D and calibration work of HXMT.