How Chandra Works
Chandra, as its full title implies, detects energy in the x-ray spectrum. It possesses both high and low energy transmission grating spectrometers, HETGS and LETGS respectively, to detect the full x-ray range. Chandra also possesses the ACIS, or Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer, and the HRC, the High Resolution Camera. These parts can all observe independently or in conjunction to satisfy every observational need of us Earth-based scientists.
The satellite housing Chandra has a high, very elliptical orbit, one of the furthest, keeping it well away from the absorptional effects of the atmosphere of Earth and away from the radiation belts. However, this also means that repair missions are impossible—good thing that Chandra hasn't had any real technical difficulties.
Somewhat unusually for such a renowned telescope, Chandra is operated not only by NASA but by SAO, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, at the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT and Northrop Grumman provide assistance. Together, this combined team has won the prestigious Smithsonian Achievement Award for their management of Chandra.