‘Absolutely gutted’ — how a jammed door is locking astronomers out of the X-ray universe

Just outside Hiroya Yamaguchi’s office is a blackboard crowded with exploded stars, spaceship schematics and spectral lines. The A4 printouts obscure almost all the free space, except for a tiny corner where he sometimes scribbles in white chalk. Right now, Yamaguchi, an associate professor at Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, is standing in front of this blackboard, facing me. 

He’s giving me a crash course on the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, or XRISM, a partnership between NASA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The first thing I learn is I’ve been saying the telescope’s name wrong this whole time. Thankfully, I’ve mostly been repeating the incorrect “ex-riz-um” in my head. It’s actually pronounced “criz-um.”

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