eXTP is a science mission designed to study the state of matter under extreme conditions of density, gravity and magnetism. Primary goals are the determination of the equation of state of matter at supra-nuclear density, the measurement of QED effects in highly magnetized star, and the study of accretion in the strong-field regime of gravity. Primary targets include isolated and binary neutron stars, strong magnetic field systems like magnetars, and stellar-mass and supermassive black holes. The mission carries a unique and unprecedented suite of state-of-the-art scientific instruments enabling for the first time ever the simultaneous spectral-timing-polarimetry studies of cosmic sources in the energy range from 0.5-30 keV (and beyond). Key elements of the payload are: the Spectroscopic Focusing Array (SFA) - a set of 11 X-ray optics for a total effective area of ∼0.9 m2 and 0.6 m2 at 2 keV and 6 keV respectively, equipped with Silicon Drift Detectors offering <180 eV spectral resolution; the Large Area Detector (LAD) - a deployable set of 640 Silicon Drift Detectors, for a total effective area of ∼3.4 m2, between 6 and 10 keV, and spectral resolution better than 250 eV; the Polarimetry Focusing Array (PFA) – a set of 2 X-ray telescope, for a total effective area of 250 cm2 at 2 keV, equipped with imaging gas pixel photoelectric polarimeters; the Wide Field Monitor (WFM) - a set of 3 coded mask wide field units, equipped with position-sensitive Silicon Drift Detectors, each covering a 90 degrees x 90 degrees field of view. The eXTP international consortium includes major institutions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Universities in China, as well as major institutions in several European countries and the United States. The predecessor of eXTP, the XTP mission concept, has been selected and funded as one of the so-called background missions in the Strategic Priority Space Science Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2011. The strong European participation has significantly enhanced the scientific capabilities of eXTP. The planned launch date of the mission is earlier than 2025.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) is a mission concept which was proposed to ESA as M3 and M4 candidate in the framework of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument and the uniquely large field of view of its wide field monitor, LOFT will be able to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions close to black holes and neutron stars and the supra-nuclear densities in the interiors of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, >8m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1 degree collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g., GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the current technical and programmatic status of the mission.
A soft X-ray focusing Telescope (SXT) was launched in a near Earth, near equatorial orbit aboard the AstroSat on September 28th, 2015. The SXT electronics was switched on within 3 days of the launch and the first light was seen on October 26th, 2015 after a sequence of operations involving venting of the camera, cooling of the CCD, opening of the telescope door followed by the opening of the camera door. Several cosmic X-ray sources have been observed since then during the Performance Verification phase. A few near-simultaneous observations have also been carried out with the Swift observatory. The in-orbit performance of the SXT based on these observations is presented here.
The Large Observatory For x-ray Timing (LOFT) was studied within ESA M3 Cosmic Vision framework and participated in the final downselection for a launch slot in 2022-2024. Thanks to the unprecedented combination of effective area and spectral resolution of its main instrument, LOFT will study the behaviour of matter under extreme conditions, such as the strong gravitational field in the innermost regions of accretion flows close to black holes and neutron stars, and the supranuclear densities in the interior of neutron stars. The science payload is based on a Large Area Detector (LAD, 10 m2 effective area, 2-30 keV, 240 eV spectral resolution, 1° collimated field of view) and a Wide Field Monitor (WFM, 2-50 keV, 4 steradian field of view, 1 arcmin source location accuracy, 300 eV spectral resolution). The WFM is equipped with an on-board system for bright events (e.g. GRB) localization. The trigger time and position of these events are broadcast to the ground within 30 s from discovery. In this paper we present the status of the mission at the end of its Phase A study.
ASTROSAT is India’s first astronomy satellite that will carry an array of instruments capable of simultaneous observations in a broad range of wavelengths: from the visible, near ultraviolet (NUV), far-UV (FUV), soft X-rays to hard X-rays. There will be five principal scientific payloads aboard the satellite: (i) a Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT), (ii) three Large Area Xenon Proportional Counters (LAXPCs), (iii) a Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager (CZTI), (iv) two Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescopes (UVITs) one for visible and near-UV channels and another for far-UV, and (v) three Scanning Sky Monitors (SSMs). It will also carry a charged particle monitor (CPM). Almost all the instruments have qualified and their flight models are currently in different stages of integration into the satellite structure in ISRO Satellite Centre. ASTROSAT is due to be launched by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in the first half of 2015 in a circular 600 km orbit with inclination of ~6 degrees, from Sriharikota launching station on the east coast of India. A brief description of the design, construction, capabilities and scientific objectives of all the main scientific payloads is presented here. A few examples of the simulated observations with ASTROSAT and plans to utilize the satellite nationally and internationally are also presented.
XEUS has been recently selected by ESA for an assessment study. XEUS is a large mission candidate for the
Cosmic Vision program, aiming for a launch date as early as 2018. XEUS is a follow-on to ESA's Cornerstone
X-Ray Spectroscopy Mission (XMM-Newton). It will be placed in a halo orbit at L2, by a single Ariane 5 ECA,
and comprises two spacecrafts. The Silicon pore optics assembly of XEUS is contained in the mirror spacecraft
while the focal plane instruments are contained in the detector spacecraft, which is maintained at the focus of the
mirror by formation flying. The main requirements for XEUS are to provide a focused beam of X-rays with an
effective aperture of 5 m2 at 1 keV, 2 m2 at 7 keV, a spatial resolution better than 5 arcsec, a spectral resolution
ranging from 2 to 6 eV in the 0.1-8 keV energy band, a total energy bandpass of 0.1-40 keV, ultra-fast timing,
and finally polarimetric capabilities. The High Time Resolution Spectrometer (HTRS) is one of the five focal
plane instruments, which comprises also a wide field imager, a hard X-ray imager, a cryogenic spectrometer,
and a polarimeter. The HTRS is unique in its ability to cope with extremely high count rates (up to 2 Mcts/s),
while providing sub-millisecond time resolution and good (CCD like) energy resolution. In this paper, we focus
on the specific scientific objectives to be pursued with the HTRS: they are all centered around the key theme
"Matter under extreme conditions" of the Cosmic Vision science program. We demonstrate the potential of the HTRS observations to probe strong gravity and matter at supra-nuclear densities. We conclude this paper by
describing the current implementation of the HTRS in the XEUS focal plane.