Artist impression of RXTE telescope
|Launch date||30 December 1995|
|Launched from||Cape Canaveral|
|Launch vehicle||Delta II|
|Type of orbit||circular orbit|
|Orbit height||600 km|
|Orbit period||90 minutes|
|All Sky Monitor (ASM)||Energy range: 1.5 - 12 kev|
|Proportional Counter Array (PCA)||Energy range: 2 - 60 keV|
|High-Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE)||Energy range: 15 - 250 keV|
|Website||RXTE home page|
The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) is a satellite that observes the time structure of astronomical X-ray sources. The RXTE has three instruments --the Proportional Counter Array, the High-Energy X-ray Timing Experiment (HEXTE), and one instrument called the All Sky Monitor. The RXTE observes X-rays from black holes, neutron stars, X-ray pulsars and x-ray bursts.
Observations from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer have been used as evidence for the existence of the frame-dragging effect predicted by the theory of general relativity. RXTE results have, as of late 2007, been used in more than 1400 scientific papers.
In January 2006 it was announced that Rossi had been used to locate a candidate intermediate-mass black hole named M82 X-1.. In February 2006 data from RXTE was used to prove that the diffuse background X-ray glow in our galaxy comes from innumerable, previously undetected white dwarfs and from other stars' coronae.  In April 2008 RXTE data was used to infer the size of the smallest known black hole.
The ASM consists of three wide-angle shadow cameras equipped with proportional counters with a total collecting area of 90 square cm. The instrumental properties are:
The PCA is an array of five proportional counters with a total collecting area of 6500 square cm. The instrument was built by the EUD (formerly 'LHEA') at GSFC. The PCA principal investigator was Dr. Jean H. Swank.
The instrumental properties are:
The HEXTE consists of two clusters each containing four `phoswich scintillation detectors. Each cluster can "rock" (beamswitch) along mutually orthogonal directions to provide background measurements 1.5 or 3.0 degrees away from the source every 16 to 128 s. Automatic gain control is provided by using a 241Am radioactive source mounted in each detector's field of view. The HEXTE's basic properties are: