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RXTE News Archive: 2009 RXTE


RXTE Workshop Presentations Now on the Web

December 8, 2009

PDF files of the presentations from the RXTE Workshop held last month (November 5, Washington, DC), are now available on the Web at the RXTE Workshop Web site, linked from the agenda.

Updated RXTE Background Software and other tools Now Available

December 6, 2009

The latest version of HEASARC's multimission data analysis software (HEASOFT 6.8) contains an updated version of PCABACKEST (the PCA background generator program). This update improves an interpolation routine which was producing wild oscillations for some spectral models (particularly the linear-in-time model) due to division by near-zero. We recommend all users of PCABACKEST get and install the XTE package in HEASOFT 6.8 (use the link, above). For more information on this change, see the RXTE PCA Team Report.

In addition to the pcabackest update, HEASOFT 6.8 also includes one new tool and one other update. The full set of XTE tools in HEASOFT 6.8 is:

  • asmappend - Modified to accomodate new FITS table layout from MIT.
  • proc2pcu (NEW TOOL) - Pre-process RXTE/PCA binned-mode data files containing two separate channels of PCU data to produce files that are compatible with saextrct.
  • pcabackest - Improvement of interpolation routine which was producing wild oscillations for some spectral models (particularly the linear-in-time model) due to division by near-zero.

RXTE Cycle 14 Accepted Program Now Available

November 25, 2009

The accepted targets from the RXTE Cycle 14 Peer Review of Open-Time targets are now available on the Web. These targets will be scheduled for observation in 2009, along with the previously announced RXTE Cycle 14 Core Program. All observations from both programs will be public immediately.

RXTE Workshop to follow Fermi Symposium

October 12, 2009

On Thursday afternoon, November 5, there will be an RXTE Workshop in Washington, D.C., following the Fermi Symposium. Details can be found at the RXTE Workshop Web site.

RXTE Returns to Normal Operations

October 2, 2009

On October 2, 2009, RXTE resumed normal observations after an extended observation of IGR J17511-3057 due to a spacecraft anomaly. The on-board telemetry monitoring system has been modified to avoid responding to invalid telemetry values. Aside from these occasional readings, the spacecraft appears to be in good health.

RXTE in Inertial Hold on IGR J17511-3057 due to Spacecraft Anomaly

September 23, 2009

At 13:35 UT on September 21, while observing the target PSR J1811-1925, RXTE disabled slews when an on-board monitoring system noticed repeated anomalous voltage readings. An initial investigation by the flight operations team (FOT) and supporting engineers determined that the spacecraft was in a safe, stable condition, and that the anomaly was unlikely to be due to actual changes in the voltage. Based on these findings a short maneuver was done to point to the target IGR J17511-3057 at 21:48 UT, and slews were then disabled by the FOT. Engineers are investigating the root cause of the anomalous readings and discussing possible strategies for resuming operations. Currently RXTE remains in a safe, stable condition with slews disabled and is likely to continue to observe only IGR J17511-3057 for at least the next several days.

RXTE Anomaly Effects Observations on Sept. 10-11

September 11, 2009

RXTE experienced an anomaly on September 10 that caused the observing plan to be suspended at 253/05:39:40 UT. The plan resumed on September 11 at 254/16:02:00 UT. In the interim, the target of observation at the time of the anomaly, 4U 1636-53, continued to be observed. However the preplanned changes in observing modes remained in effect, so that the data modes vary over time. These observations will have OBSIDs starting with 94437. The OBSID starting with 94310 that was in the plan for 4U 1636-53 should be normal.

The anomaly appears to have begun with a bus controller "freezing" for a fraction of a second during passage of the South Atlantic Anomaly. Communications on the bus recovered within seconds, but not before misreads on the solar array drive mechanism occurred. These triggered an on-board response to call for disabling the slews to subsequent targets as a precautionary measure.

Since then, telemetry has been normal. The event is thought to be related to known infrequent chance occurrences, but relevant data is being examined closely.

Improvements to the PCA Response Matrix Now Available

August 19, 2009

New PCA response matrix software and calibration files provide significant improvements to spectral analysis over the entire RXTE mission. For more information, see the entry on the PCA Digest Page.

Reminder: Cycle 14 Proposals are Due August 13 at 17:00 EDT

August 4, 2009

Cycle 14 proposals are due August 13 (Thursday) at 17:00 EDT. For details, see our Information for Proposers Web page.

RXTE Cycle 14 Information for Proposers

June 18, 2009

The RXTE team is pleased to announce the guidelines for proposers for RXTE Cycle 14. See the "Dear Colleague" letter released by NASA HQ and our Information for Proposers Web page for further details.

RXTE Discovers Pulsations of New SGR

June 10, 2009

RXTE researcher Ersin Gogus and collaborators have found the spin period of the newly discovered SGR. For details, see their GCN circular:

RXTE Mission Extended Through Sept. 2010

May 12, 2009

The RXTE team is delighted to announce that the RXTE mission has been extended for another year (Oct. 2009 - Sept. 2010). An opportunity to propose for new observations will be announced later this year. A schedule and proposal guidelines will be provided soon on the RXTE Web site and via the "xtenews" mailing list.

The RXTE team would like to thank the user community for their continued interest and support of RXTE. If you would like to give any feedback concerning the way cycle 13 has worked, please email the chair of the User's Group, John Tomsick.

Timing Error Fixed in January 2006 data

January 16, 2009

Users of RXTE data should be aware of a one second timing error that was recently fixed in archival data from 01-12 January 2006, inclusive. Observations from that time range had an incorrect value for the TIMEZERO keyword (incorrect value 2.37842941), which has now been corrected to TIMEZERO=3.37842941. RXTE users following standard timing recipes with the old data would have experienced a one second time offset error. There are a number of pulsar observations in this time range which would be most vulnerable to such an error. All RXTE users are advised to re-download the data from this time range from the archive. When using the corrected files, the offset error should be resolved. The problem was due to leap second transition issues in 2006, which were anticipated during the more recent transition in 2008-2009.

Recommended Cycle 13 Open Time Targets

January 15, 2009

The Open Time targets decided through Peer Review for RXTE Cycle 13 have been announced. Please see our Recommended Cycle 13 Open Time Program Web page for details.

If you have a question about RXTE, please send email to one of our help desks.

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