High Energy Astrophysics (HEA) encompasses a broad range of astrophysical science, with sources that include stars and stellar clusters, compact objects (black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs), supernova remnants, the interstellar medium, galaxies and clusters of galaxies, Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), and gamma ray bursters, as well as a variety of fundamental physical processes. The physics involved includes extremes of gravity, density and magnetic field and is often inaccessible via any other waveband. HEA investigates and answers crucial questions in all fields of contemporary astrophysics.
Unlike the focusing of radio and optical light, X-rays are brought to focus through shallow, grazing incident angles. The analogy of skimming a stone across a pond is appropriate in describing how X-rays are focused. The higher the energy of the X-ray photon the shallower the incident angle must be, thereby introducing the requirement of longer focal lengths for focusing high-energy X-rays (E > 10 keV). This technical challenge has hindered scientific advancement in the high-energy regime, while at lower X-ray energies the community has prospered immensely with spectacular data from focusing observatories like XMM-Newton, Chandra, and Suzaku. Now, with ASTRO-H, the community will reap similar rewards from the tremendous improvement in spatial and spectral resolution at high energies. ASTRO-H is a JAXA mission. More information can be found on the ASTRO-H web site .
Because of the grazing-angle optics, high-energy X-ray instruments have a long focal length. The Hard X-ray Imager (HXI) of ASTRO-H has its detector housed in a boom that will extend by about 6 m in orbit so that a focal length of 12 m can be achieved for that instrument. This long structure will inevitably oscillate and flex, especially when passing across the orbital day/night boundary. In order to retain the essential imaging resolution, it is important that the boom has a metrology system that measures this flexion in order to allow post-acquisition compensation in generating the science images. In the current paper, we describe a possible Alignment Monitoring System (AMS) to measure in real time the relative position of the boom. The AMS will be an important element to guaranty that the ASTRO-H observatory will meet its performance requirements.
The Canadian Space Agency has the intention of providing the AMS to the ASTRO-H mission. The current paper reports a study that was conducted to support that intention.
NASA and other national agencies ask the National Research Council (NRC) once every decade to look out ten or more years into the future and prioritize research areas, observations, and notional missions to make those observations. The latest such scientific community consultation referred to as the Decadal Survey (DS), was completed in 2007 . DS thematic panels developed 35 missions from more than 100 missions proposed, from which the DS Executive Committee synthesized 17 missions, with suggested order presented in three time-phased blocks. The first block with aim for near term launch (2010-2013) included four missions. The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) mission is one of them.
The CLARREO mission was classified as a Small Mission to be contained in a 300 M US$ budgetary envelope. CLARREO will provide a benchmark climate record that is global, accurate in perpetuity, tested against independent strategies that reveal systematic errors, and pinned to international standards. The long term objective thus suggests that NOAA or NASA will fly the CLARREO instrument suite on an operational basis following the first scientific experiment
The CLARREO missions will conduct the following observations:
1. Absolute spectrally-resolved measurements of terrestrial thermal emission with an absolute accuracy of 0.1 K in brightness temperature (3σ or 99% confidence limits.) The measurements should cover most of the thermal spectrum.
2. Absolute spectrally-resolved measurements of the solar radiation reflected from Earth. The measurements should cover the part of the solar spectrum most important to climate, including the near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared.
3. Independent measurements of atmospheric temperature, pressure, and humidity using Global Positioning System (GPS) occultation measurements of atmospheric refraction.
4. Serve as a high accuracy calibration standard for use by the broadband CERES instruments on-orbit.
Following the DS conclusion, and considering the early development stage of the mission, NASA funded three Instrument Incubator Programs (IIP) to push instrument concepts to a higher level of maturity. A joint proposal between University of Wisconsin (UW) and Harvard University was selected to address the first above objective and part of the fourth one in the corresponding spectral region. In order to achieve this goal, four complementary technologies are to be developed :
(1) On-orbit Absolute Radiance Standard (OARS), a high emissivity blackbody source that uses multiple miniature phase-change cells to provide a revolutionary on-orbit standard with absolute temperature accuracy proven over a wide range of temperatures.
(2) On-orbit Cavity Emissivity Modules (OCEMs), providing a source (quantum cascade laser, QCL, or “Heated Halo”) to measure any change in the cavity emissivity of the OARS.
(3) On-orbit Spectral Response Module (OSRM), a source for spectral response measurements using a nearly monochromatic QCL source configured to uniformly fill the sensor field-of-view.
(4) Dual Absolute Radiance Interferometers (DARI), providing spectral coverage from 3.3 to 50 μm that can be inter-compared to dissect any unexpected systematic errors in overlapping spectral regions.
ABB's GFI (Generic Flight Interferometer) has been selected as the favoured architecture for the DARI, mainly due to the maturity of the design and its space heritage. A GFI with commercial grade components was optimised for the selected spectral range. The architecture of the GFI will ensure a high response stability between calibrations.
The Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) is the main instrument on-board the SCISAT-1 satellite, a mission mainly supported by the Canadian Space Agency . It is in Low- Earth Orbit at an altitude of 650 km with an inclination of 74E. Its data has been used to track the vertical profile of more than 30 atmospheric species in the high troposphere and in the stratosphere with the main goal of providing crucial information for the comprehension of chemical and physical processes controlling the ozone life cycle. These atmospheric species are detected using high-resolution (0.02 cm-1) spectra in the 750-4400 cm-1 spectral region. This leads to more than 170 000 spectral channels being acquired in the IR every two seconds. It also measures aerosols and clouds to reduce the uncertainty in their effects on the global energy balance. It is currently the only instrument providing such in-orbit high resolution measurements of the atmospheric chemistry and is often used by international scientists as a unique data set for climate understanding.
The satellite is in operation since 2003, exceeding its initially planned lifetime of 2 years by more than a factor of 5. Given its success, its usefulness and the uniqueness of the data it provides, the Canadian Space Agency has founded the development of technologies enabling the second generation of ACE-FTS instruments through the High Vertical Resolution Measurement (HVRM) project but is still waiting for the funding for a mission.
This project addresses three major improvements over the ACE-FTS. The first one aims at improving the vertical instantaneous field-of-view (iFoV) from 4.0 km to 1.5 km without affecting the SNR and temporal precision. The second aims at providing precise knowledge on the tangent height of the limb observation from an external method instead of that used in SCISAT-1 where the altitude is typically inferred from the monotonic CO2 concentration seen in the spectra. The last item pertains to reaching lower altitude down to 5 km for the retrieved gas species, an altitude at which the spectra are very crowded in terms of absorption. These objectives are attained through a series of modification in the optical train such as the inclusion of a field converter and a series of dedicated real-time and post-acquisition algorithms processing the Sun images as it hides behind the Earth. This paper presents the concepts, the prototypes that were made, their tests and the results obtained in this Technology Readiness Level (TRL) improvement project.
A development program was conducted to further improve the technology readiness level of the Generic Flight
Interferometer (GFI), a candidate technology for the future hyperspectral sounder on MTG. Interferometer-based
sounders have already demonstrated their performance and reliability in conducting advanced sounding tasks in recent
missions (METOP-A, IBUKI, SCISAT). The transition from previous single-pixel (or few) to large-format array
detectors offering strong hyperspectral capabilities adds technical challenges to the interferometer design. Some of the
improvements required to address those challenges have already been implemented in recent deployment of
hyperspectral commercial products but must be adapted to the space environment and constraints. Other improvements
are dictated by mission specifics but still tend to be recurrent in recent opportunities. The GFI design intent is to regroup
these innovations in a generic modular interferometer platform in order to address a variety of missions with minor
modifications and hence lower development costs and risks.