Three of NASA‘s scientists have created the world’s first x-ray imager with a wide field-of-view to aid in the study of charge exchange. The scientists went on to successfully demonstrate the x-ray camera, which is called STORM (Sheath Transport Observer for the Redistribution of Mass). Both STORM and another NASA project called DXL took a trip on a Black Brant IX rocket in December.
DXL stands for Diffuse X-ray emission from the Local galaxy, and is also used to study charge exchange. The phenomenon is the result of solar wind “blowing” into our planet’s exosphere, as well as neutral gas, something that is not well understood by scientists. Charge exchange was first discovered almost two decades ago, and has been observed on a regular basis ever since.
While other devices have existed that can look at the so-called soft x-ray emissions by the solar wind, STORM is different. Because the camera has a wide field-of-view, it can image the solar wind in relation to our planet’s magnetosphere, something never before possible. This will allow scientist to observe – and better understand – the effects this phenomenon has on space weather around Earth, as well as its myriad of effects.
Michael Collier, a NASA planetary scientists who worked on the device, said: “[STORM] is a wonderful example of cooperation across divisions to better understand a process that is of interest to us all, but for different reasons.” Scott Porter, an astrophysicist who worked on the project, went on to say that charge exchange is one of only a few things that draws different types of scientists together.