NASA WRX rocket mission will use new water recovery system

On April 4, NASA will launch the Water Recovery X-Ray rocket (WRX) from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The suborbital sounding rocket is a research rocket that flies in a parabolic path, according to Penn State, which is working with the space agency on this project. The WRX will be the first sounding rocket mission from the Kwajalein Atoll to utilize NASA's newly developed water recovery system, an alternative to typical land recoveries.

Presently, NASA performs most of its astronomical suborbital rocket missions from New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range. Doing this enables the space agency to perform land recovery of valuable payloads. However, the space agency has also developed a water recovery system for retrieving astronomical payloads from water. Having the ability to do water payload recovery opens the door for additional observation targets, according to Penn State professor and WRX principal investigator Randall McEntaffer.

"As astronomers, the sky that we look at is dependent on the latitude of observation. As we go toward southern latitudes we open up the southern sky," said McEntaffer. "At White Sands, Vela is at too low of an altitude for efficient observation. Being able to launch from Kwajalein with water recovery increases the number of our observation targets."

The WRX rocket will carry an x-ray spectrograph payload developed by Penn State; it'll be study the Milky Way's supernova x-rays. The mission, assuming all goes according to play, will provide Penn State with the opportunity to demonstrate its new x-ray spectrograph and its better efficiency, according to McEntaffer.

The mission will specifically target the Vela supernova remnant, taking measurements of its x-rays. The measurements will enable researchers to determine things about the Vela supernova remnant conditions, including ionization state, temperature, composition, and more. That data will then open the door to a better understanding of the remnant itself.

SOURCE: Penn State