X-ray observations with Chandra will complement infrared images from the Hubble Space Telescope and higher-energy observations by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Chandra will have a resolution that is 8 times better than any previous X-ray telescope, while its sensitivity will be 20 times better. It will detect X-rays from stellar flares, exploding supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars and other astrophysical objects.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope - which is expected to last over 15 years - Chandra will have a relatively short life of 5 years. The X-ray telescope's high orbit - designed to avoid the intense radiation of the Van Allen belts that surround the Earth and can damage sensitive instruments - means that the space shuttle cannot return for maintenance and repairs.