Patrick Champey, Optical Science and Engineering doctoral candidate, and an optical engineer in the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, grabs a selfie with the Marshall Grazing Incidence X-ray Spectrometer, or MaGIXS, during integrated payload testing at Marshall’s world-class X-ray & Cryogenic Facility. Credits: NASA

Led by Dr. Amy Winebarger (Ph.D., Physics, 2000 | M.S., Physics, 1997) at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on July 30, 2021, the Marshall Grazing Incidence X-ray Spectrometer (MaGIXS) payload was successfully launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

A NASA Black Brant IX sounding rocket carried the payload to an altitude of 191 miles before descending by parachute for recovery at White Sands. Preliminary reports show that all systems performed as planned and good data was received.

MaGIXS is a specialized scientific instrument designed to peer at the Sun in X-ray light that is invisible to the human eye. Focusing in on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, MaGIXS will scan an active region – where solar eruptions such as flares and coronal mass ejection often form – to measure its X-ray emissions in high resolution. The data will help scientists understand how active regions form and become heated to multi-million degree temperatures.