We have been studying Lynx, an X-ray Observatory with factors of 10 to 1000 greater imaging and spectroscopic capabilities than any other existing or planned facility. We present a Design Reference Mission (DRM) driven by the need to solve fundamental problems in three broad areas of astrophysics. The Lynx Observatory will provide discovery space for all of astrophysics, and also address questions which will only be revealed as our knowledge increases. Studies supported by the Advanced Concepts Office at MSFC for the observatory design and operations take advantage of the highly successful architecture of the Chandra Observatory. A light-weight mirror with 30 times the Chandra effective area, and modern microcalorimeter and CMOS based X-ray imagers will exploit the 0.5 arcsec imaging capability. Operating at Sun/Earth L2, we expect 85% to 90% of the time to be spent acquiring data from celestial targets. Designed for a five year baseline mission, there are no expected impediments to achieving a 20 year goal. This paper presents technical details of the Observatory and highlights of the mission operations.
Lynx, one of the four strategic mission concepts under study for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey, provides leaps in capability over previous and planned x-ray missions and provides synergistic observations in the 2030s to a multitude of space- and ground-based observatories across all wavelengths. Lynx provides orders of magnitude improvement in sensitivity, on-axis subarcsecond imaging with arcsecond angular resolution over a large field of view, and high-resolution spectroscopy for point-like and extended sources in the 0.2- to 10-keV range. The Lynx architecture enables a broad range of unique and compelling science to be carried out mainly through a General Observer Program. This program is envisioned to include detecting the very first seed black holes, revealing the high-energy drivers of galaxy formation and evolution, and characterizing the mechanisms that govern stellar evolution and stellar ecosystems. The Lynx optics and science instruments are carefully designed to optimize the science capability and, when combined, form an exciting architecture that utilizes relatively mature technologies for a cost that is compatible with the projected NASA Astrophysics budget.
We summarize nearly two decades of successful operation of the Chandra High Resolution Camera (HRC). The HRC is a pair of cesium–iodide (CsI) coated microchannel plate X-ray detectors launched in July, 1999, one optimized for widefield imaging (HRC-I) and a second as a readout for X-ray transmission gratings (HRC-S). We discuss the temporal evolution of the performance of the flight instrument, the impact of extended exposure to the charged particle environment of high Earth orbit, and lessons learned from nineteen years of flight operations. We also describe our investigation of new algorithms to remove more efficiently the charged particle background from the science data, as we prepare for another decade of operation.