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18-Nov-98 | ROSAT mission ends

The German X-ray observatory satellite ROSAT, launched in 1990 aboard the first Delta II to use a 10-foot-diameter fairing, was permanently shut down on Tuesday, 3 November. Officials determined that the last functional main focal plane instrument, a high-resolution camera, had been irreversibly damaged in September when it was pointed too close to the sun.

During its lifetime ROSAT made the first all-sky survey at X-ray wavelengths, charting more than 60,000 sources, nearly 100 times more than any previous survey. It was also used for study of specific X-ray sources such as quasars and neutron stars, and provided a wealth of data over the last 8 years; according to Spaceviews, “papers using ROSAT data are being published in scientific journals at a rate of more than one a day.”

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