What is the Ixpe mission in which Italy will participate

The launch is scheduled on December 9 from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. The project is intended to open a new window on the most mysterious aspects of the universe.

It's all set for the mission intended to open a new window on the most mysterious and violent aspects of the universe. This is the project Xipe, Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, and also participates in the Italian Space Agency (Asi) alongside NASA. The launch is scheduled at 7.00 a.m. Italian time on December 9 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a Falcon 9 rocket. The goal is to go deep into the still unknown aspects of the cosmos, for example related to the explosion of supernovas or the formation of black holes.

What is the Xipe mission

"It is a mission that pushes to the extreme our ability to do science and to which Italy contributes with technologies at the forefront of the world", explained the president of Asi, Giorgio Saccoccia, during the meeting organized in view of the launch. The total cost of the project is important: 120 million, of which 20 million from the Italian Space Agency, which has designed and developed the instrument that is the heart of the mission, the Global Pixel Detector (Gpd).

The scientific coordination is of the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (Infn), with Inaf and the support of Asi. For the mission, the Italian Space Agency will provide its Malindi base for data reception, thanks to the collaboration of Telespazio (Leonardo-Thales), and the Space Science Data Center (Ssdc) for data analysis.

What is expected from Xipe

"We are at the beginning of a new page: we are going to study some of the most extreme astrophysical objects that exist in the universe - said the president of Inaf, Marco Tavani - and this will open a new window in the study of cosmic sources such as neutron stars and black holes". Also for the president of Infn, Antonio Zoccoli, "thanks to Ixpe, the first mission entirely dedicated to the study of the universe through the polarization of X-rays, we are ready to write a new chapter in physics".

The Ixpe mission is part of the program Smex (Small Explorer) of NASA. The X-ray polarization detectors that are on board were funded by Asi and developed by a group of researchers from Inaf and Infn. Compared to similar technologies of 50 years ago, the sensitivity has increased by about one hundred times. Meanwhile it seems to be ready, between delays and restarts, even the mission of the American space agency to return to the Moon. Moreover, NASA has also launched a project to build a nuclear reactor on our satellite.

Stefania Bernardini