Future astronomical X-ray spectrometer missions call for high spectral resolution in conjunction with high throughput. To achieve both of these requirements simultaneously, many grating elements must be aligned such that their diffraction arcs overlap at the focal plane. Methods for the alignment of reflection gratings operated in the extreme off-plane mount are being developed at The Pennsylvania State University in support of the Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment. We report on the alignment methodology and performance tests of an aligned reflection grating module.
The Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) is a soft X-ray spectroscopy suborbital rocket payload designed to obtain the highest-resolution soft X-ray spectrum of Capella to date. With a spectral resolution goal of R(λ/▵λ) < 2000 at select wavelengths in its 10-55 Å bandpass of interest, the payload will be able to study the line-dominated spectrum of Capella in unprecedented detail. To achieve this performance goal, the payload will employ three key technologies: mono-crystalline silicon X-ray mirrors developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, reflection gratings manufactured at The Pennsylvania State University, and electron-multiplying CCDs developed by The Open University and XCAM Ltd. In this document, an updated optical design that can achieve the performance goal of the OGRE spectrometer and a new grating alignment concept to realize this optical design are described.
The Rockets for Extended-source X-ray Spectroscopy (tREXS) are a series of sub-orbital rocket payloads that will aim to make large field-of-view spectroscopic observations of diffuse soft X-ray astrophysical objects. The tREXS payloads will passively focus X-rays onto a co-aligned array of reflection gratings, dispersing the incident X-rays onto a focal plane camera. The large focal plane requires the detector to cover a large area (100s of mm), have good quantum efficiency across the soft X-ray energy range (300 eV to 1000 eV), and survive the high-stress environment of a sub-orbital rocket launch. This paper will look at the options that were considered for this focal plane detector including Micro-Channel Plates, Charge-Coupled Devices, and CMOS detectors; including the use of commercially available camera solutions from companies such as Andor. The final choice for the focal plane camera will then be discussed in detail including the ultimate decisions behind the choice, system level integration into the payload design, and the requirements on the readout electronics, telemetry interface, and power.
The Rockets for Extended-source X-ray Spectroscopy (tREXS) are a series of suborbital rocket payloads being developed at The Pennsylvania State University. The tREXS science instrument is a soft X-ray grating spectrometer that will provide a large field-of-view and unmatched spectral resolving power for extended sources. Each instrument channel consists of a passive, mechanical focusing optic and an array of reflection gratings. The focal plane consists of an array of CIS113 CMOS sensors. tREXS I is currently in the design phase and is being developed for a launch in 2021 to observe diffuse soft X-ray emission from the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant. An analysis of instrument optics, gratings, and focal plane camera is discussed.
The Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) is a sounding rocket payload designed to obtain a high-resolution soft X-ray spectrum of Capella. OGRE’s optical system uses new technologies including state-of-the-art X-ray optics, custom arrays of reflection gratings, and an array of EM-CCDs. Many of these technologies will be tested for the first time in flight with OGRE. To achieve the high performance that these new technologies are capable of, the payload components must be properly aligned to meet high tolerances. This paper will outline OGRE’s opto-mechanical design for achieving alignment within these tolerances. Specifically, the design of the X-ray grating arrays will be discussed.