Accurate prediction of the arrival of solar wind phenomena, in particular coronal mass ejections (CMEs), is becoming more important given our ever-increasing reliance on technology. SCOPE is a coronagraph specifically optimised for operational space weather prediction, designed to provide early evidence of Earth-bound CMEs. In this paper, we present results from phase A/B1 of the instrument’s development, which included conceptual design and a program of breadboard testing.
We describe the conceptual design of the instrument. In particular, we explain the design and analysis of the straylight rejection baffles and occulter needed to block the image of the solar disc, in order to render the much fainter corona visible. We discuss the development of in-house analysis code to predict the straylight diffraction effects that limit the instrument’s performance, and present results, which we compare against commercially available analysis tools and the results from breadboard testing. In particular, we discuss some of the challenges of predicting straylight effects in this type of instrument and the methods we have developed for overcoming them.
We present the test results from an optical breadboard, designed to verify the end-to-end straylight rejection of the instrument. The design and development of both the breadboard and the test facility is presented. We discuss some of the challenges of measuring very low levels of straylight and how these drive the breadboard and test facility design. We discuss the test and analysis procedures developed to ensure a representative, complete characterisation of the instrument’s straylight response.
RAL Space is enhancing its program to lead the development of European capabilities in space-based visible-light coronal and heliospheric imaging instrumentation in the light of emerging opportunities such as the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness program and recent S2 small-mission call. Visible-light coronal and heliospheric imaging of solar wind phenomena, such as coronal mass ejections and interaction regions, is of critical importance to space weather studies, both operationally and in terms of enabling the underpinning science. This work draws on heritage from scientific instruments such as LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) on the SOHO spacecraft, SMEI (Solar Mass Ejection Imager) on the Coriolis spacecraft and the HI (Heliospheric Imager) instruments on STEREO. Such visible-light observation of solar wind structures relies on the detection of sunlight that has been Thomson-scattered by electrons (the so-called K-corona). The Thomson-scattered signal must be extracted from other signals that can be many orders of magnitude greater (such as that from the F-corona and the solar disc itself) and this places stringent constraints on stray-light rejection, as well as pointing stability and accuracy. We discuss the determination of instrument requirements, key design trade-offs and the evolution of base-line designs for the coronal and heliospheric regimes. We explain how the next generation of instruments will build on this heritage while also, in some cases, meeting the challenges on resources imposed on operational space weather imagers. In particular, we discuss the optical engineering challenges involved in the design of these instruments.
The Swift Gamma-ray Burst (GRB) observatory responds to GRB triggers with optical observations in ~ 100 s, butcannot respond faster than ~ 60 s. While some rapid-response ground-based telescopes have responded quickly, thenumber of sub-60 s detections remains small. In 2013 June, the Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory-Pathfinder is expected tobe launched on the Lomonosov spacecraft to investigate early optical GRB emission. Though possessing uniquecapability for optical rapid-response, this pathfinder mission is necessarily limited in sensitivity and event rate; here wediscuss the next generation of rapid-response space observatory instruments. We list science topics motivating ourinstruments, those that require rapid optical-IR GRB response, including: A survey of GRB rise shapes/times,measurements of optical bulk Lorentz factors, investigation of magnetic dominated (vs. non-magnetic) jet models,internal vs. external shock origin of prompt optical emission, the use of GRBs for cosmology, and dust evaporation inthe GRB environment. We also address the impacts of the characteristics of GRB observing on our instrument andobservatory design. We describe our instrument designs and choices for a next generation space observatory as a secondinstrument on a low-earth orbit spacecraft, with a 120 kg instrument mass budget. Restricted to relatively modest mass,power, and launch resources, we find that a coded mask X-ray camera with 1024 cm2 of detector area could rapidlylocate about 64 GRB triggers/year. Responding to the locations from the X-ray camera, a 30 cm aperture telescope witha beam-steering system for rapid (~ 1 s) response and a near-IR camera should detect ~ 29 GRB, given Swift GRBproperties. The additional optical camera would permit the measurement of a broadband optical-IR slope, allowingbetter characterization of the emission, and dynamic measurement of dust extinction at the source, for the first time.
We describe the space project of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) which will observe early optical photons from
gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with a sub-second optical response, for the first time. The UFFO will probe the early optical
rise of GRBs, opening a completely new frontier in GRB and transient studies, using a fast response Slewing Mirror
Telescope (SMT) that redirects optical path to telescope instead of slewing of telescopes or spacecraft. In our small
UFFO-Pathfinder experiment, scheduled to launch aboard the Lomonosov satellite in 2012, we use a motorized mirror in
our Slewing Mirror Telescope instrument to achieve less than one second optical response after X-ray trigger. We
describe the science and the mission of the UFFO project, including a next version called UFFO-100. With our program
of ultra-fast optical response GRB observatories, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of GRB mechanisms, and
potentially open up the z<10 universe to study via GRB as point source emission probes.
Since the launch of the SWIFT, Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) science has been much progressed. Especially supporting
many measurements of GRB events and sharing them with other telescopes by the Gamma-ray Coordinate Network
(GCN) have resulted the richness of GRB events, however, only a few of GRB events have been measured within a
minute after the gamma ray signal. This lack of sub-minute data limits the study for the characteristics of the UV-optical
light curve of the short-hard type GRB and the fast-rising GRB. Therefore, we have developed the telescope named the
Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) Pathfinder, to take the sub-minute data for the early photons from GRB. The
UFFO Pathfinder has a coded-mask X-ray camera to search the GRB location by the UBAT trigger algorithm. To
determine the direction of GRB as soon as possible it requires the fast processing. We have ultimately implemented all
algorithms in field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) without microprocessor. Although FPGA, when compared with
microprocessor, is generally estimated to support the fast processing rather than the complex processing, we have
developed the implementation to overcome the disadvantage and to maximize the advantage. That is to measure the
location as accurate as possible and to determine the location within the sub-second timescale. In the particular case for a
accuracy of the X-ray trigger, it requires special information from the satellite based on the UFFO central control system.
We present the implementation of the UBAT trigger algorithm as well as the readout system of the UFFO Pathfinder.
The Ultra Fast Flash Observatory pathfinder (UFFO-p) is a telescope system designed for the detection of the prompt optical/UV photons from Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs), and it will be launched onboard the Lomonosov spacecraft in 2012. The UFFO-p consists of two instruments: the UFFO Burst Alert and Trigger telescope (UBAT) for the detection and location of GRBs, and the Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) for measurement of the UV/optical afterglow. The UBAT isa coded-mask aperture X-ray camera with a wide field of view (FOV) of 1.8 sr. The detector module consists of the YSO(Yttrium Oxyorthosilicate) scintillator crystal array, a grid of 36 multi-anode photomultipliers (MAPMTs), and analog and digital readout electronics. When the γ /X-ray photons hit the YSO scintillator crystal array, it produces UV photons by scintillation in proportion to the energy of the incident γ /X-ray photons. The UBAT detects X-ray source of GRB inthe 5 ~ 100 keV energy range, localizes the GRB within 10 arcmin, and sends the SMT this information as well as drift correction in real time. All the process is controlled by a Field Programmable Gates Arrays (FPGA) to reduce the processing time. We are in the final stages of the development and expect to deliver the instrument for the integration with the spacecraft. In what follows we present the design, fabrication and performance test of the UBAT.
The Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) is a key telescope of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) space project to
explore the first sub-minute or sub-seconds early photons from the Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) afterglows. As the
realization of UFFO, 20kg of UFFO-Pathfinder (UFFO-P) is going to be on board the Russian Lomonosov satellite in November 2012 by Soyuz-2 rocket. Once the UFFO Burst Alert & Trigger Telescope (UBAT) detects the GRBs,
Slewing mirror (SM) will slew to bring new GRB into the SMT’s field of view rather than slewing the entire spacecraft. SMT can give a UV/Optical counterpart position rather moderated 4arcsec accuracy. However it will provide a important understanding of the GRB mechanism by measuring the sub-minute optical photons from GRBs. SMT can respond to the trigger over 35 degree x 35 degree wide field of view within 1 sec by using Slewing Mirror Stage (SMS). SMT is the reflecting telescope with 10cm Ritchey-Chretien type and 256 x 256 pixilated Intensified Charge-Coupled Device (ICCD). In this paper, we discuss the overall design of UFFO-P SMT instrument and payloads development status.
The Heliospheric Imager (HI) is part of the SECCHI suite of instruments on-board the two STEREO observatories
launched in October 2006. The two HI instruments provide stereographic image pairs of solar coronal plasma and
coronal mass ejections (CME) over a field of view ranging from 13 to 330 R0.
The HI instrument is a combination of two refractive optical systems with a two stage multi-vane baffle system. The key
challenge of the instrument design is the rejection of the solar disk light by the front baffle, with total straylight
attenuation at the detector level of the order of 10-13 to 10-15. Optical systems and baffles were designed and tested to
reach the required rejection.
This paper presents the pre-flight optical tests performed under vacuum on the two HI flight models in flight temperature
conditions. These tests included an end-to-end straylight verification of the front baffle efficiency, a co-alignment and an
optical calibration of the optical systems. A comparison of the theoretical predictions of the instrument response and
performance with the calibration results is presented. The instrument in-flight photometric and stray light performance
are also presented and compared with the expected results.
We report the design, development and performance of the SECCHI (Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric
Investigation) CCD camera electronics on NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO). STEREO
consists of two nearly identical space-based observatories; one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind to
provide the first-ever stereoscopic (3D) measurements to study the Sun and the nature of its coronal mass ejections. The
SECCHI instrument suite consists of five telescopes that will observe the solar corona, and inner heliosphere all the way
from the surface of the Sun to the orbit of the Earth, and beyond. Each telescope contains a large-format science-grade
CCD; two within the Heliospheric Imager (HI) instrument, and three in a separate instrument package (SCIP) consisting
of two coronagraphs and an EUV imager. The CCDs are operated from two Camera Electronics Boxes. Constraints on
the size, mass, and power available for the camera electronics required the development of a miniaturised solution
employing digital and mixed-signal ASICs, FPGAs, and compact surface-mount construction. Operating more than one
CCD from a single box also provides economy on the number of DC-DC converters and interface electronics required.
We describe the requirements for the overall design and implementation, and in particular the design and performance of
the camera's space-saving mixed-signal CCD video processing ASIC. The performance of the camera is reviewed
together with sample images obtained since the STEREO mission was successfully launched on October 25 2006 from
The Heliospheric Imager (HI) forms part of the SECCHI suite of instruments aboard the two NASA STEREO spacecraft
which were launched successfully from Cape Canaveral AFB on 25 Oct 2006 (26 Oct UTC). Following lunar swingby's
on 15 Dec and 21 Jan respectively, the two spacecraft were placed in heliocentric orbits at approximately 1 AU - one
leading and one lagging the Earth, with each spacecraft separating from the Earth by 22.5° per year.
Each HI instrument comprises two wide-angle optical cameras - HI-1 and HI-2 have 20° and 70° fields-of-view which
are off-pointed from the Sun direction by 14.0° and 53.7° respectively, with the optical axes pointed towards the ecliptic
plane. In this way the cameras will for the first time provide stereographic images of the solar corona, and in particular of
Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) as they propagate outwards through interplanetary space towards the Earth and beyond.
The wide-field coverage of HI enables imaging of solar ejecta from 15 to about 330 solar radii whilst the other SECCHI
instruments (2 coronagraphs and an EUV imager) provide coverage from the lower corona out to 15 solar radii.
This paper briefly reviews the design and performance requirements for the instrument. The various activation, checkout
and calibration activities before and after opening the instrument's protective cover or door (instrument 'first-light') are
then described and it is shown that the instrument has met the design requirements, including CCD and camera imaging
performance, correction for shutterless operation of the cameras, straylight rejection and thermal requirements. It is
demonstrated from observations of a CME event on 24-25 Jan 2007 that the instrument is capable of detecting CMEs at
an intensity of 1% of the coronal background. Lessons learnt during the design, development and in-orbit operation of
the instrument are discussed.
The Heliospheric Imager (HI) is part of the SECCHI suite of instruments on-board the two STEREO spacecrafts to be launched in 2006. Located on two different orbits, the two HI instruments will provide stereographic images of solar coronal plasma and coronal mass ejections (CME) over a wide field of view (~90°), ranging from 13 to 330 solar radii (R0). These observations complete the 15 R0 field of view of the solar corona obtained with the other SECCHI instruments (2 coronagraphs and an EUV imager).
The HI instrument is a combination of 2 refractive optical systems with 2 different multi-vanes baffle system. The key challenge of the instrument design is the rejection of the solar disk light, with total straylight attenuation of the order of 10-13 to 10-15. The optics and baffles have been specifically designed to reach the required rejection.
This paper presents the SECCHI/HI opto-mechanical design, with the achieved performances. A test program has been run on one flight unit, including vacuum straylight verification test, thermo-optical performance test and co-alignment test. The results are presented and compared with the initial specifications.
The Air Force/NASA Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) launched January 6, 2003 is now recording whole sky data on each 100-minute orbit. Precise photometric sky maps of the heliosphere around Earth are expected from these data. The SMEI instrument extends the heritage of the HELIOS spacecraft photometer systems that have recorded CMEs and other heliospheric structures from close to the Sun into the anti-solar hemisphere. SMEI rotates once per orbit and views the sky away from Earth using CCD camera technology. To optimize the information derived from this and similar instruments, a tomographic technique has been developed for analyzing remote sensing observations of the heliosphere as observed in Thomson scattering. The technique provides 3-dimensional reconstructions of heliospheric density. The tomography program has been refined to analyze time-dependent phenomena such as evolving corotating heliospheric structures and more discrete events such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and this improved analysis is being applied to the SMEI data.
DSRI has initiated a development program of CZT x-ray and gamma ray detectors employing strip readout techniques. A dramatic improvement of the energy response was found operating the detectors as so-called drift detectors. For the electronic readout, modern ASIC chips were investigated. Modular design and the low power electronics will make large area detectors using the drift strip method feasible. The performance of a prototype CZT system will be presented and discussed.
This paper describes the x-ray camera for the Atmospheric X- ray Observatory (AXO) proposed for the Danish Small Satellite Program, which is under evaluation for the next mission in 2003. AXO is aimed at localizing the origin of the Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGF) that have been observed with BATSE. An additional objective is a detailed mapping of the auroral x-ray and optical emission. The x-ray camera to be used must be capable of detecting quite weak and pointlike, short-duration emission from TGF, and also to handle with the rather intense and extended radiation from auroral activity. The x-ray energy range is 5-200 keV and the angular resolution about 2 degrees. The requested satellite orbit is polar with an altitude of 500 km so that the phenomena can be seen from a close range. The design of a coded mask camera matching these requirements is discussed in terms of energy and angular resolution, sensitivity, count rates, and time resolution. Detailed simulations of the camera imaging capabilities are presented.
Construction of the flight model joint European X-ray telescope (JET-X) for the Russian spectrum-X mission has been completed and performance tests and calibration of the instrument have been carried out. Separate measurements of the responses of the x-ray mirrors, the CCD detectors and the optical filters already indicate that JET-X will achieve spatial resolutions of around 20 arcsec, an on-axis collecting area of 310 cm2 at 1.5 keV and an energy resolution of 130 eV at 6 keV. As a final step in the calibration of the telescope assembly, end-to-end x-ray tests on the complete instrument have been performed in the x-ray beam line facility at MPE Garching. Results from this calibration program are reported and the overall response of the two x-ray telescopes are compared with the previously measured responses of the mirror, the CCD detectors and the optical filters. In-orbit sensitivity responses are derived from these calibration data sets, for the normal operating modes of JET-X.
The Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) experiment is designed to detect and measure transient plasma features in the heliosphere, including coronal mass ejections, shock waves, and structures such as streamers which corotate with the Sun. SMEI will provide measurements of the propagation of solar plasma clouds and high-speed streams which can be used to forecast their arrival at Earth from one to three days in advance. The white light photometers on the HELIOS spacecraft demonstrated that visible sunlight scattered from the free electrons of solar ejecta can be sensed in interplanetary space with an electronic camera baffled to remove stray background light. SMEI promises a hundred-fold improvement over the HELIOS data, making possible quantitative studies of mass ejections. SMEI measurements will help predict the rate of energy transfer into the Earth's magnetospheric system. By combining SMEI data with solar, interplanetary and terrestrial data from other space and ground-based instruments, it will be possible to establish quantitative relationships between solar drivers and terrestrial effects. SMEI consists of three cameras, each imaging a 60 degree(s) X 3 degree(s) field of view for a total image size of 180 degree(s) X 3 degree(s). As the satellite orbits the earth, repeated images are used to build up a view of the entire heliosphere.
The Joint European Telescope for X-ray astronomy, JET-X, is one of the core instruments in the scientific payload of the Russian Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma high energy astrophysics mission. JET-X consists of two co-aligned x-ray imaging telescopes, each with a spatial resolution of better than 20 arcseconds. Cooled x-ray sensitized CCDs in the focal plane of each telescope are designed to provide imaging with 150 eV spectral resolution over the energy band 0.3 - 10 keV. A typical observation of 105 seconds comprises many short (2.5 second) CCD exposures, thus enabling the detection and energy determination of individual photon events. If the full imaging resolution of the instrument is to be realized, a post facto, time-resolved attitude reconstruction of the telescope's pointing direction will be required, so that the effects of thermal distortion within the telescope structure and attitude drift of the spacecraft can be corrected when combining the multiple x-ray images obtained during an observation. JET-X will therefore generate its own aspect solution through pointing measurements with a purpose- designed Attitude Monitor: a cooled, slow-scan CCD TV camera with data processing electronics.
The pointing system described in this paper was originally developed as part of the Hard X-ray Imaging Telescope (XRT) built by the University of Birmingham for flight on the Spacelab-2 mission in 1985. The primary scientific objective of the XRT was the imaging of extended celestial X-ray sources in the energy band 2.5 - 30 kev using the coded-aperture technique. In order to maximize the observing time available to the XRT the instrument was provided with an independent pointing mount. The performance parameters of the pointing system were determined by the requirements of the XRT and resulted in the development of a two- axis gimbal system capable of supporting a moving mass of 280 kg and providing an inertial pointing stability of 20'. The mechanical configuration of a balanced payload with gimbal support bearings rated to withstand the launch environment without off-loading was chosen to enhance reliability and minimize development costs. The electrical configuration is based around duel redundant torque motors and synchros on each axis. The control loop is closed via redundant Intersil IM6100 microprocessors. The control software uses a novel algorithm to estimate gimbal rates from timing transition data from the synchros.
The Joint European X-ray Telescope, JET-X, is one of the core instruments in the scientific payload of the USSR''s Spectrum Roentgen-Gamma (RG) high energy astrophysics mission. JET-X consists of two identical co-aligned X-ray imaging telescopes, each with a spatial resolution of 20 arc second. Focal plane imaging is achieved with cooled X-ray sensitive CCD detectors, which provide high spectral resolution and good background rejection efficiency, in addition to the necessary imaging capability. An optical monitor telescope, also co-aligned with the two X-ray telescopes, permits simultaneous observation and identification of optical counterparts of X-ray target sources. The system design of JET-X is reviewed, and performance data obtained from measurements on the instrument prototype are presented.