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XRISM: The Next Major X-ray Mission to Unveil the Secrets of the Universe

The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) is set to launch on September 7, 2023, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The mission is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA, and the European Space Agency (ESA).

XRISM will study the Universe in X-ray light with an unprecedented combination of light collecting power and energy resolution – the capability to distinguish X-rays of different energies. The mission will provide a picture of the dynamics in galaxy clusters, the chemical make-up of the Universe and the flow of matter around accreting supermassive black holes (Active Galactic Nuclei or AGN), among many other topics. Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
XRISM will study the Universe in X-ray light with an unprecedented combination of light collecting power and energy resolution – the capability to distinguish X-rays of different energies. The mission will provide a picture of the dynamics in galaxy clusters, the chemical make-up of the Universe and the flow of matter around accreting supermassive black holes (Active Galactic Nuclei or AGN), among many other topics. Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

XRISM will be a powerful observatory that will be used to study the most energetic objects and events in the universe. The mission will be equipped with two instruments: the Resolve instrument, which will measure the energy of incoming X-ray photons, and the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS), which will image the X-ray sky.


XRISM is expected to make major discoveries in a variety of areas, including:

  • The formation and evolution of galaxies

  • The structure and evolution of galaxy clusters

  • The nature of black holes

  • The origin of cosmic rays

  • The composition of the interstellar medium

The launch of XRISM is a major milestone for X-ray astronomy and is expected to usher in a new era of discoveries about the universe.


European contributions to the mission


ESA is contributing several pieces of hardware to the XRISM mission, including:

  • A space-proven optical telescope to ensure that XRISM always knows where it is pointing

  • Two separate devices that will sense Earth's magnetic field and orient the spacecraft accordingly

  • The Resolve instrument's six-filter wheel

  • Electronics for the filter wheel

In addition to these hardware contributions, ESA scientists are also involved in setting out the scientific goals of the mission and choosing the targets that XRISM will observe.


The launch of XRISM is a major achievement for the international cooperation in space science. The mission is expected to make significant discoveries about the universe and will help us to better understand our place in the cosmos.

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