Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS) 2

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A key astrophysical theme that will drive future UV/optical space missions is the life cycle of cosmic matter, from the flow of intergalactic gas into galaxies to the formation and evolution of exoplanetary systems. The Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS) 2 sounding rocket experiment facilitates observations of Atomic-to-Molecular transitions phases in translucent clouds for the local Interstellar Medium (ISM) by observing nearby stars that were too bright for Hubble and FUSE. Detailed composition and temperature maps at the diffuse/translucent ISM boundary will be possible for the first time with data from CHESS 2.

Translucent clouds reside in the transition between the diffuse (traditionally defined as AV < 1) and dense (AV > 3) phases of the interstellar medium (ISM). It is in this regime where the ultraviolet portion of the average interstellar radiation field plays a critical role in the photochemistry of the gas and dust clouds that pervade the Milky Way galaxy and provide the raw materials for future star and planet formation. The far-UV bandpass provides access to many absorption lines of metals such as iron, magnesium, silicon, and nickel, allowing an exploration of the depletion patterns in translucent clouds.

CHESS-2, with its high-resolution (R ≥ 120,000) and large band pass, is perfectly suited to the study of translucent clouds and will help create an observational base for the models of the chemistry and physical conditions in interstellar clouds in addition to its capabilities of probing the LISM. The  target for CHESS observations is the star Lambda Ori.

The Principal Investigator is Dr. Kevin France/University of Colorado.

For more information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/chess-2-studying-the-birthplace-of-stars-and-planets

Drawing of a Terrier-Black Brant sounding rocket

The Black Brant 9 is a two stage sounding rocket with a Terrier first stage and Black Brant second stage. The Black Brant 9 can reach altitudes of about 600 km. Payloads weighing from 400 to 1200 pounds can be flown.

Additional sounding rocket vehicles

Google Earth Map showing White Sands Missile Range.

CHESS-2 was launched from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on February 21, 2016.