The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) is a collaborative science mission between ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). SMILE is a novel self-standing mission to observe the coupling of the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere via X-Ray imaging of the solar wind -- magnetosphere interaction zones, UV imaging of global auroral distributions and simultaneous in-situ solar wind, magnetosheath plasma and magnetic field measurements. The SMILE mission proposal was submitted by a consortium of European, Chinese and Canadian scientists following a joint call for mission by ESA and CAS. It was formally selected by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) as an element of the ESA Science Program in November 2015, with the goal of a launch at the end of 2021.
In order to achieve its scientific objectives, the SMILE payload will comprise four instruments: the Soft X-ray Imager (SXI), which will spectrally map the Earth's magnetopause, magnetosheath and magnetospheric cusps; the UltraViolet Imager (UVI), dedicated to imaging the auroral regions; the Light Ion Analyser (LIA) and the MAGnetometer (MAG), which will establish the solar wind properties simultaneously with the imaging instruments. We report on the status of the mission and payload developments and the findings of a design study carried out in parallel at the concurrent design facilities (CDF) of ESA and CAS in October/November 2015.
The objective of the Diffuse X-ray emission from the Local Galaxy (DXL) sounding rocket experiment is to distinguish the soft X-ray emission due to the Local Hot Bubble (LHB) from that produced via Solar Wind charge exchange (SWCX). Enhanced interplanetary helium density in the helium focusing cone provides a spatial variation to the SWCX that can be identified by scanning through the focusing cone using an X-ray instrument with a large grasp. DXL consists of two large proportional counters refurbished from the Aerobee payload used during the Wisconsin All Sky Survey. The counters utilize P-10 fill gas and are covered by a thin Formvar window (with Cyasorb UV-24 additive) supported on a nickel mesh. DXL's large grasp is 10 cm2 sr for both the 1/4 and 3/4 keV bands. DXL was successfully launched from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on December 12, 2012 using a Terrier Mk70 Black Brant IX sounding rocket.
The Sheath Transport Observer for the Redistribution of Mass (STORM) instrument is a prototype soft
X-ray camera also successfully own on the DXL sounding rocket. STORM uses newly developed slumped micropore (`lobster eye') optics to focus X-rays onto a position sensitive, chevron configuration, microchannel plate detector. The slumped micropore optics have a 75 cm curvature radius and a polyimide/aluminum filter bonded to its surface. STORM's large field-of-view makes it ideal for imaging SWCX with exospheric hydrogen for future missions. STORM represents the first flight of lobster-eye optics in space.
X-ray emission from charge exchange recombination between the highly ionized solar wind and neutral material in
Earth's magnetosheath has complicated x-ray observations of celestial objects with x-ray observatories including
ROSAT, Chandra, XMM-Newton, and Suzaku. However, the charge-exchange emission can also be used as an
important diagnostic of the solar-wind interacting with the magnetosheath. Soft x-ray observations from low-earth orbit
or even the highly eccentric orbits of Chandra and XMM-Newton are likely superpositions of the celestial object of
interest, the true extra-solar soft x-ray background, geospheric charge exchange, and heliospheric charge exchange. We
show that with a small x-ray telescope placed either on the moon, in a similar vein as the Apollo ALSEP instruments, or
in a stable orbit at a similar distance from the earth, we can begin to disentangle the complicated emission structure in
the soft x-ray band. Here we present initial results of a feasibility study recently funded by NASA to place a small x-ray
telescope on the lunar surface. The telescope operates during lunar night to observe charge exchange interactions
between the solar wind and magnetosphic neutrals, between the solar wind and the lunar atmosphere, and an
unobstructed view of the soft x-ray background without the geospheric component.
On December 10th 2004 the XMM-Newton observatory celebrated its 5th year in orbit. Since the beginning of the mission steady health and contamination monitoring has been performed by the XMM-Newton SOC and the instrument teams. Main targets of the monitoring, using scientific data for all instruments on board, are the behaviour of the Charge Transfer Efficiency, the gain, the effective area and the bad, hot and noisy pixels. The monitoring is performed by combination of calibration observations using internal radioactive calibration sources with observations of astronomical targets. In addition a set of housekeeping parameters is continuously monitored reflecting the health situation of the instruments from an engineering point of view. We show trend behaviour over the 5 years especially in combination with events like solar flares and other events affecting the performance of the instruments.
The great collecting area of the mirrors coupled with the high quantum efficiency of the EPIC detectors have made XMM-Newton the most sensitive X-ray observatory flown to date. This is particularly evident during slew exposures which, while giving only 15 seconds of on-source time, actually constitute a 2-10 keV survey ten times deeper than current "all-sky" catalogues. Here we report on progress towards making a catalogue of slew detections constructed from the full, 0.2-12 keV energy band and discuss the challenges associated with processing the slew data. The fast (90 degrees per hour) slew speed results in images which are smeared, by different amounts depending on the readout mode, effectively changing the form of the point spread function. The extremely low background in slew images changes the optimum source searching criteria such that searching a single image using the full energy band is seen to be more sensitive than splitting the data into discrete energy bands. False detections due to optical loading by bright stars, the wings of the PSF in very bright sources and single-frame detector flashes are considered and techniques for identifying and removing these spurious sources from the final catalogue are outlined. Finally, the attitude reconstruction of the satellite during the slewing maneuver is complex. We discuss the implications of this on the positional accuracy of the catalogue.
ESA's large X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton is in its fifth year of operations. We give a general overview of the status of calibration of the five X-ray instruments and the Optical Monitor. A main point of interest in the last year became the cross-calibration between the instruments. A cross-calibration campaign started at the XMM-Newton Science Operation Centre at the European Space Astronomy Centre in collaboration with the Instrument Principle Investigators provides a first systematic comparison of the X-ray instruments EPIC and RGS for various kind of sources making also an initial assessment in cross calibration with other X-ray observatories.
XMM-Newton was launched into space on a highly eccentric 48 hour orbit on December 10th 1999. XMM-Newton is now in its fifth year of operation and has been an outstanding success, observing the Cosmos with imaging, spectroscopy and timing capabilities in the X-ray and optical wavebands. The EPIC-MOS CCD X-ray detectors comprise two out of three of the focal plane instruments on XMM-Newton. In this paper we discuss key aspects of the current status and performance history of the charge transfer ineffiency (CTI), energy resolution and spectral redistribution function (rmf) of EPIC-MOS in its fifth year of operation.
On 10th December 1999, the European X-ray satellite XMM, now called XMM-Newton, was successfully put into orbit. After initial commissioning of the satellite's subsystems, the EPIC-pn camera was switched on and tested thoroughly in the period Jan./Febr. 2000. After refining of some of the parameter settings and the on-board pn-computer programs, we started the Calibration and Performance Verification Phase, which will last until the end of May 2000. In this paper we report on the results of the EPIC-pn Commissioning Phase with respect to the in-orbit performance of the camera. We also show some of the early results with the pn-camera, the first light image of a region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and an observation of the Crab Nebular.