NASA, Japan's space agency hope to unveil mysteries of gravity with latest mission

The Japanese Space Agency and NASA are preparing to launch the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission on Saturday. The mission will study temperature differences in deep space and try to shed light on the mysteries of gravity. Artist's rendition courtesy of NASA

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Scientists hope an upcoming space launch will help them understand more about the warping of spacetime.

NASA and the Japanese Space Agency's X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, which has also received support from the European Space Agency, is scheduled to launch Sunday from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center at 8:26 p.m. EDT.

The XRISM will be launched from the Tangashima Space Center in Japan on a H-2A rocket and is expected to operate for about three years if the mission proceeds nominally.

The XRISM uses a microcalorimeter spectrometer called Resolve, which can be used to measure the temperature, and more crucially temperature differences, of deep space objects.

To work properly, Resolve has to be cooled to an extremely low temperature.

"Resolve measures tiny temperature changes created when an X-ray hits its 6-by-6-pixel detector. To measure that miniscule increase and determine the X-ray's energy, the detector needs to cool down to around minus 460 Fahrenheit, just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero," NASA said in a press release earlier this month.

Researchers hope data collected by XRISM will provide insight into the structures in deep space such as gigantic galaxy clusters and particle jets formed by black holes.

The XRISM mission will allocate time to the European Space Agency, too.

The ESA will have 8% of the XRISM observation time, during which they hope to cross-reference Resolve's observations with X-ray readings from their own XMM-Newton spacecraft, which has been collecting data for more than two decades.

Scientists hope the XRISM mission will help unravel the mystery of gravity, which Albert Einstein theorized was caused by the warping of spacetime around heavy objects.

By observing the speed and composition of matter and particle jets near black holes, scientists hope to gain insight on the potential warping of space time.

Earlier this month. NASA posted a video in which Sophia Roberts, a video producer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, explained the process of spectroscopy.

"After taking a deep dive into spectroscopy, I really appreciate the critical context it gives scientists about the story behind those pictures," Roberts said.