The Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technology has been established as a new type of X-ray optics enabling future X-ray observatories such as ATHENA. SPO is being developed at cosine together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic as well as industrial partners. The SPO modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution X-ray optics, allowing missions to reach a large effective area of several square meters. These properties of the optics are mainly linked to the mirror plates consisting of mono-crystalline silicon. Silicon is rigid, has a relatively low density, a very good thermal conductivity and excellent surface finish, both in terms of figure and surface roughness. For Athena, a large number of mirror plates is required, around 100,000 for the nominal configuration. With the technology spin-in from the semiconductor industry, mass production processes can be employed to manufacture rectangular shapes SPO mirror plates in high quality, large quantity and at low cost. Within the last years, several aspects of the SPO mirror plate have been reviewed and undergone further developments in terms of effective area, intrinsic behavior of the mirror plates and mass production capability. In view of flight model production, a second source of mirror plates has been added in addition to the first plate supplier. The paper will provide an overview of most recent plate design, metrology and production developments.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) uses commercially available monocrystalline double-sided super-polished silicon wafers as a basis to produce mirrors that form lightweight and stiff high-resolution x-ray optics. The technology has been invented by cosine and the European Space Agency (ESA) and developed together with scientific and industrial partners to mass production levels. SPO is an enabling element for large space-based x-ray telescopes such as Athena and ARCUS, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band, with angular resolution requirements up to 5 arc seconds. SPO has also shown to be a versatile technology that can be further developed for gamma-ray optics, medical applications and for material research. This paper will summarise the status of the technology and of the mass production capabilities, show latest performance results and discuss the next steps in the development.
Mission studies and technology preparation for the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) [1- 5] mission are continuing to progress. The X-ray optics of this future space observatory are based on the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technology [6-58], and is being evolved in a joint effort by industry, research institutions and ESA. The SPO technology benefits from substantial investments made by the semiconductor industry, and spins-in materials, processes and equipment into the development of novel X-ray optics. A comprehensive Technology Development Plan (TDP) is being implemented, funded by ESA and involving a large number of experts in key areas ranging from micro machining of Silicon, over sophisticated automation and robotic systems, to hybrid manufacturing. The performance, environmental compatibility and serial automated production and testing are being addressed in parallel, aiming at the demonstration of the required technology readiness for the ATHENA Mission Adoption Review (MAR) expected by the end of 2021. A formal Technology Readiness Assessment is in place and is being currently exercised in preparation of the ATHENA Mission Formulation review (MFR). The programmatics for the flight model implementation is being defined in detail, and preparations are starting for the design and implementation of the necessary facilities. An overview of the ATHENA optics technology preparation, the technology readiness assessment and the related activities is provided.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) has been established as a new type of x-ray optics that enables future x-ray observatories such as Athena. SPO is being developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic and industrial partners. The optics modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics, that shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. In this paper we are going to discuss the latest generation production facilities and we are going to present results of the production of mirror modules for a focal length of 12 m, including x-ray test results.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) has been established as a new type of x-ray optics that enables future x-ray observatories such as Athena. SPO is being developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic and industrial partners. The optics modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics, that shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 - 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. In this paper we are going to discuss the latest generation production facilities and we are going to present results of the production of mirror modules for a focal length of 12 m, including x-ray test results.
The development of the X-ray optics for ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics)[1-4], the selected second large class mission in the ESA Science Programme, is progressing further, in parallel with the payload preparation and the system level studies. The optics technology is based on the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) [5-48], which utilises the excellent material properties of Silicon and benefits from the extensive investments made in the semiconductor industry. With its pore geometry the SPO is intrinsically very robust and permits the use of very thin mirrors while achieving good angular resolution. In consequence, the specific mass of the resultant ATHENA optics is very low compared to other technologies, and suitable to cope with the imposed environmental requirements. Further technology developments preparing the ATHENA optics are ongoing, addressing additive manufacturing of the telescope structure, the integration and alignment of the mirror assembly, numerical simulators, coating optimisations, metrology, test facilities, studies of proton reflections and meteorite impacts, etc. A detailed Technology Development Plan was elaborated and is regularly being updated, reflecting the progress and the mission evolution. The required series production and integration of the many hundred mirror modules constituting the ATHENA telescope optics is an important consideration and a leading element in the technology development. The developments are guided by ESA, implemented in industry and supported by research institutions. The many ongoing SPO technology development activities aim at demonstrating the readiness of the optics technology at the review deciding the adoption of ATHENA onto the ESA Science flight programme, currently expected for 2021. Technology readiness levels of 5/6 have to be demonstrated for all critical elements, but also the compliance to cost and schedule constraints for the mission.
The work on the definition and technological preparation of the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) mission continues to progress. In parallel to the study of the accommodation of the telescope, many aspects of the X-ray optics are being evolved further. The optics technology chosen for ATHENA is the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), which hinges on technology spin-in from the semiconductor industry, and uses a modular approach to produce large effective area lightweight telescope optics with a good angular resolution. Both system studies and the technology developments are guided by ESA and implemented in industry, with participation of institutional partners. In this paper an overview of the current status of the telescope optics accommodation and technology development activities is provided.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and several academic and industrial partners, provides lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics. This technology enables ATHENA to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area in the 0.2 - 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5''. After developing the technology for 50 m and 20 m focal length, this year has witnessed the first 12 m focal length mirror modules being produced. The technology development is also gaining momentum with three different radii under study: mirror modules for the inner radii (Rmin = 250 mm), outer radii (Rmax = 1500 mm) and middle radii (Rmid = 737 mm) are being developed in parallel.