Virtual Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Chandra Operations Control Center Now Available

April 13, 2021
News Release

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Illustration of space station and interstellar objects

The public is invited to tour the Chandra X-Ray Observatory’s Operations Control Center (OCC) from the comfort of their own homes. Created by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the tour offers visitors the ability to walk through and explore the facility virtually while learning about Chandra’s mission. Visitors will also hear from astronaut Eileen Collins, the commander of the STS-93, the NASA mission that originally launched the spacecraft into orbit in 1999.

Staff at OCC control the orbiting Chandra spacecraft and ensure its health and safety. The space telescope orbits above the Earth’s atmosphere, up to an altitude of 86,500 miles. Its mission is to detect X-ray emissions from very hot sources, such as exploded stars, black holes and galaxy clusters. The spacecraft transmits scientific data and observations back to OCC headquarters daily, where Smithsonian staff process the findings and distribute them to scientists around the world for analysis. 

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory oversees the spacecraft’s research from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

About the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is a collaboration between Harvard and the Smithsonian designed to ask—and ultimately answer—humanity’s greatest unresolved questions about the nature of the universe. The Center for Astrophysics is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with research facilities across the U.S. and around the world.

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SI-110-2021