The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) is the high resolution X-ray spectrometer of the ESA Athena X-ray observatory. Over a field of view of 5’ equivalent diameter, it will deliver X-ray spectra from 0.2 to 12 keV with a spectral resolution of 2.5 eV up to 7 keV on ∼ 5” pixels. The X-IFU is based on a large format array of super-conducting molybdenum-gold Transition Edge Sensors cooled at ∼ 90 mK, each coupled with an absorber made of gold and bismuth with a pitch of 249 μm. A cryogenic anti-coincidence detector located underneath the prime TES array enables the non X-ray background to be reduced. A bath temperature of ∼ 50 mK is obtained by a series of mechanical coolers combining 15K Pulse Tubes, 4K and 2K Joule-Thomson coolers which pre-cool a sub Kelvin cooler made of a 3He sorption cooler coupled with an Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerator. Frequency domain multiplexing enables to read out 40 pixels in one single channel. A photon interacting with an absorber leads to a current pulse, amplified by the readout electronics and whose shape is reconstructed on board to recover its energy with high accuracy. The defocusing capability offered by the Athena movable mirror assembly enables the X-IFU to observe the brightest X-ray sources of the sky (up to Crab-like intensities) by spreading the telescope point spread function over hundreds of pixels. Thus the X-IFU delivers low pile-up, high throughput (< 50%), and typically 10 eV spectral resolution at 1 Crab intensities, i.e. a factor of 10 or more better than Silicon based X-ray detectors. In this paper, the current X-IFU baseline is presented, together with an assessment of its anticipated performance in terms of spectral resolution, background, and count rate capability. The X-IFU baseline configuration will be subject to a preliminary requirement review that is scheduled at the end of 2018.
The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) is an imaging microcalorimeter being developed for ESA's Athena X-ray observatory to providing high spectral resolution imaging between 0.2-12 keV, with moderate count-rate capability and a large field-of-view. The X-IFU focal plane assembly (FPA) will contain the instrument's large-format transition edge sensor (TES) microcalorimeter array and its superconducting readout electronics, plus a second TES detector, located behind the main sensor array, is used to detect high-energy cosmic rays and secondary particles passing through the sensor array and enable the rejection of false events that they generate in the sensor array's event list. A Kevlar thermal suspension is used to isolate the detectors at 55 mK from the 2 K environment of the X-IFU instrument cryostat's cold stage, while three layers of shielding are used to allow the detector's to achieve their low-noise performance in the expected on-ground and in-flight electromagnetic and microvibration environment. This paper will describe the preliminary design concept of the X-IFU focal plane assembly and its critical technology building blocks.
TNO, in cooperation with Micromega-Dynamics, SRON, Dutch Space and CSL, has designed a compact breadboard cryogenic delay line (figure 1) for use in future space interferometry missions. The work is performed under ESA contract 17.747/03 in preparation for the DARWIN mission. The breadboard (BB) delay line is representative of a flight mechanism. The delay line has a single stage voice coil actuator for Optical Path Difference (OPD) control, driving a twomirror cat’s eye. Magnetic bearings provide frictionless and wear free operation with zero-hysteresis. The design of the BB delay line has been completed.
The development test program, including operation at 100 K has been completed. The verification test programme is currently being carried out and will include functional testing at 40 K.
The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) on board the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics (Athena) will provide spatially resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy from 0.2 to 12 keV, with ~ 5" pixels over a field of view of 5 arc minute equivalent diameter and a spectral resolution of 2.5 eV up to 7 keV. In this paper, we first review the core scientific objectives of Athena, driving the main performance parameters of the X-IFU, namely the spectral resolution, the field of view, the effective area, the count rate capabilities, the instrumental background. We also illustrate the breakthrough potential of the X-IFU for some observatory science goals. Then we brie y describe the X-IFU design as defined at the time of the mission consolidation review concluded in May 2016, and report on its predicted performance. Finally, we discuss some options to improve the instrument performance while not increasing its complexity and resource demands (e.g. count rate capability, spectral resolution).
This paper summarizes a preliminary design concept for the focal plane assembly of the X-ray Integral Field Unit on the Athena spacecraft, an imaging microcalorimeter that will enable high spectral resolution imaging and point-source spectroscopy. The instrument's sensor array will be a ~ 3840-pixel transition edge sensor (TES) microcalorimeter array, with a frequency domain multiplexed SQUID readout system allowing this large-format sensor array to be operated within the thermal constraints of the instrument's cryogenic system. A second TES detector will be operated in close proximity to the sensor array to detect cosmic rays and secondary particles passing through the sensor array for off-line coincidence detection to identify and reject events caused by the in-orbit high-energy particle background. The detectors, operating at 55 mK, or less, will be thermally isolated from the instrument cryostat's 2 K stage, while shielding and filtering within the FPA will allow the instrument's sensitive sensor array to be operated in the expected environment during both on-ground testing and in-flight operation, including straylight from the cryostat environment, low-energy photons entering through the X-ray aperture, low-frequency magnetic fields, and high-frequency electric fields.
The ESA Athena mission will implement 2 instruments to study the hot and energetic universe. The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) will provide spatially resolved high resolution spectroscopy. This high energy resolution of 2.5 eV at 7 keV could be achieved thanks to TES (Transition Edge Sensor) detectors that need to be cooled to very low temperature. To obtain the required 50 mK temperature level, a careful design of the cryostat and of the cooling chain including different technologies in cascade is needed. The preliminary cryogenic architecture of the X-IFU instrument that fulfils the TES detector thermal requirements is described. In particular, the thermal design of the detector focal plane assembly (FPA), that uses three temperature stages (from 2 K to 50 mK) to limit the thermal loads on the lowest temperature stage, is described. The baseline cooling chain is based on European and Japanese mechanical coolers (Stirling, Pulse tube and Joule Thomson coolers) that precool a sub Kelvin cooler made of a 3He sorption cooler coupled with a small ADR (Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerator). Preliminary thermal budgets of the X-IFU cryostat are presented and discussed regarding cooling chain performances.
SRON, Netherlands Institute for Space Research, is developing a Focal Plane Assembly for future missions requiring large-format arrays of Transition Edge Sensors. The up-scaling of the amount of pixels together with the mass and volume limitations for a space instrument requires technology developments in several areas. A dedicated program has been initiated to develop the required magnetic shielding, high density electrical interconnects and a thermal insulating suspension. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate Technology Readiness Level 4-5 for these key-technologies before the end of 2015. In this talk we will present the status of the program, as carried out under ESA GSTP.
Athena is designed to implement the Hot and Energetic Universe science theme selected by the European Space Agency for the second large mission of its Cosmic Vision program. The Athena science payload consists of a large aperture high angular resolution X-ray optics (2 m2 at 1 keV) and twelve meters away, two interchangeable focal plane instruments: the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) and the Wide Field Imager. The X-IFU is a cryogenic X-ray spectrometer, based on a large array of Transition Edge Sensors (TES), offering 2:5 eV spectral resolution, with ~5" pixels, over a field of view of 50 in diameter. In this paper, we present the X-IFU detector and readout electronics principles, some elements of the current design for the focal plane assembly and the cooling chain. We describe the current performance estimates, in terms of spectral resolution, effective area, particle background rejection and count rate capability. Finally, we emphasize on the technology developments necessary to meet the demanding requirements of the X-IFU, both for the sensor, readout electronics and cooling chain.
The SAFARI instrument is a far infrared imaging spectrometer that is a core instrument of the SPICA mission. Thanks to the large (3 meter) SPICA cold telescope, the ultra sensitive detectors and a powerful Fourier Transform Spectrometer, this instrument will give access to the faintest light never observed in the 34 μm - 210 μm bandwidth with a high spectral resolution. To achieve this goal, TES detectors, that need to be cooled at a temperature as low as 50 mK, have been chosen. The thermal architecture of the SAFARI focal plane unit (FPU) which fulfils the TES detector thermal requirements is presented. In particular, an original 50 mK cooler concept based on a sorption cooler in series with an adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator will be used. The thermal design of the detector focal plane array (FPA) that uses three temperature stages to limit the loads on the lowest temperature stage, will be also described. The current SAFARI thermal budget estimations are presented and discussed regarding the limited SPICA allocations. Finally, preliminary thermal sensitivity analysis dealing with thermal stability requirements is presented.
One of the instruments on the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (Athena) which was one of the three
missions under study as one of the L-class missions of ESA, is the X-ray Microcalorimeter Spectrometer (XMS). This
instrument, which will provide high-spectral resolution images, is based on X-ray micro-calorimeters with Transition
Edge Sensor (TES) and absorbers that consist of metal and semi-metal layers and a multiplexed SQUID readout. The
array (32 x 32 pixels) provides an energy resolution of < 3 eV. Due to the large collection area of the Athena optics, the XMS instrument must be capable of processing high counting rates, while maintaining the spectral resolution and a low deadtime. In addition, an anti-coincidence detector is required to suppress the particle-induced background. Compared to the requirements for the same instrument on IXO, the performance requirements have been relaxed to fit into the much more restricted boundary conditions of Athena.
In this paper we illustrate some of the science achievable with the instrument. We describe the results of design studies for the focal plane assembly and the cooling systems. Also, the system and its required spacecraft resources will be given.
One of the instruments on the International X-ray Observatory (IXO), under study with NASA, ESA and JAXA, is the
X-ray Microcalorimeter Spectrometer (XMS). This instrument, which will provide high spectral resolution images, is
based on X-ray micro-calorimeters with Transition Edge Sensor thermometers. The pixels have metallic X-ray absorbers
and are read-out by multiplexed SQUID electronics. The requirements for this instrument are demanding. In the central
array (40 x 40 pixels) an energy resolution of < 2.5 eV is required, whereas the energy resolution of the outer array is
more relaxed (≈ 10 eV) but the detection elements have to be a factor 16 larger in order to keep the number of read-out
channels acceptable for a cryogenic instrument. Due to the large collection area of the IXO optics, the XMS instrument
must be capable of processing high counting rates, while maintaining the spectral resolution and a low deadtime. In
addition, an anti-coincidence detector is required to suppress the particle-induced background.
In this paper we will summarize the instrument status and performance. We will describe the results of design studies for
the focal plane assembly and the cooling systems. Also the system and its required spacecraft resources will be given.
TNO, in cooperation with Micromega-Dynamics, SRON, Dutch Space and CSL, has designed a compact breadboard cryogenic delay line (figure 1) for use in future space interferometry missions. The breadboard (BB) delay line is representative of a flight mechanism. The delay line has a single stage voice coil actuator for Optical Path Difference (OPD) control, driving a two-mirror cat's eye. Magnetic bearings provide frictionless and wear free operation with zero-hysteresis. The development test programme, including operation at 100 K has been completed. The verification test programme is currently being carried out by Alcatel Alenia Space (in cooperation with Sageis-CSO) and will include functional testing at 40 K. A short design description and the intermediate results of the verification test programme are reported in this paper.