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After 16 years in space, NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) has finally been shut down.
RXTE far exceeded its original science goals and leaves astronomers with a scientific bounty for years to come. Data from the mission have resulted in more than 2,200 papers in refereed journals, 92 doctoral theses, and more than 1,000 rapid notifications alerting astronomers around the globe to new astronomical activity.
“The spacecraft and its instruments had been showing their age, and in the end RXTE had accomplished everything we put it up there to do, and much more,” said Tod Strohmayer, RXTE project scientist at Goddard. The decision to decommission RXTE followed the recommendations of a 2010 review board tasked to evaluate and rank each of NASA’s operating astrophysics missions.