A NASA space telescope designed to hunt for black holes and other mysteries of the universe passed a key test in orbit in late July, setting the stage for the X-ray observatory to begin its prime science mission, NASA said.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR for short, passed a postlaunch review of its hardware, instruments and calibration. The observatory will begin gathering science data for its main science operations phase in August, NASA officials said in a statement.

NuSTAR is designed to observe high-energy, short-wavelength X-ray light from some of the most dynamic objects in space, including black holes and supernova remnants.

The observatory was launched June 13 from near the Kwajalein Atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean. Roughly a week later, NuSTAR stretched out its massive 10-meter mast, which separates its two X-ray gathering optics from a point where the light will be focused and collected by a camera.

The postlaunch assessment, conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., included a full checkout of the spacecraft and its deployed mast.



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