The joint European Space Agency and Chinese Academy of Sciences Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer mission (SMILE) aims to develop a global scale understanding of the interaction between the solar weather and the Earth’s magnetosphere-ionosphere. The soft X-ray imager (SXI) is one of the instruments on board and will observe photons emitted in the 200 eV to 2000 eV energy range from the solar wind charge exchange process using two large 4510 x 4510 pixel CCD370s as a focal plane. The CCD370s take their design and qualification heritage from similar sensors being used in the PLATO mission, with specific modifications to optimize their performance in this soft X-ray energy range. SMILE will orbit Earth in a highly elliptical orbit and will pass through the radiation belts every 52 hours. The trapped and solar protons present will gradually damage the CCDs throughout the 3-year mission and degrade their performance. To understand the impact the damage has on the devices a series of proton radiation campaigns are being undertaken. These campaigns are being performed with flight-like SMILE CCDs, and functionally similar PLATO devices, with follow-up characterization across from -130 to -85 °C. The most recent irradiation campaign has been completed using a PLATO CCD280 kept below -85 °C for irradiation and characterization, and the results show that the measured parallel charge transfer inefficiency varies with temperature between 1x10-4 and 4x10-4 in unbinned full-frame readout mode. The effect of temperature annealing up to -85 °C on the parallel charge transfer inefficiency has also been assessed and shows that no temperature-dependent annealing of the radiation-induced damage has been observed. A similar behavior is expected to be seen in the SMILE devices, albeit with an anticipated improvement by a factor 3-4 due to the modifications made to the design. Thus, results indicate the SMILE CCD370s will meet the performance requirements of the SMILE SXI instrument.
The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) is a collaborative science mission between ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). SMILE is a novel self-standing mission to observe the coupling of the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere via X-Ray imaging of the solar wind -- magnetosphere interaction zones, UV imaging of global auroral distributions and simultaneous in-situ solar wind, magnetosheath plasma and magnetic field measurements. The SMILE mission proposal was submitted by a consortium of European, Chinese and Canadian scientists following a joint call for mission by ESA and CAS. It was formally selected by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) as an element of the ESA Science Program in November 2015, with the goal of a launch at the end of 2021.
In order to achieve its scientific objectives, the SMILE payload will comprise four instruments: the Soft X-ray Imager (SXI), which will spectrally map the Earth's magnetopause, magnetosheath and magnetospheric cusps; the UltraViolet Imager (UVI), dedicated to imaging the auroral regions; the Light Ion Analyser (LIA) and the MAGnetometer (MAG), which will establish the solar wind properties simultaneously with the imaging instruments. We report on the status of the mission and payload developments and the findings of a design study carried out in parallel at the concurrent design facilities (CDF) of ESA and CAS in October/November 2015.
The XMM-Newton observatory, launched by the European Space Agency in 1999, is still one of the scientific community’s most important high-energy astrophysics missions. After almost 15 years in orbit its instruments continue to operate smoothly with a performance close to the immediate post-launch status. The competition for the observing time remains very high with ESA reporting a very healthy over-subscription factor. Due to the efficient use of spacecraft consumables XMM-Newton could potentially be operated into the next decade. However, since the mission was originally planned for 10 years, progressive ageing and/or failures of the on-board instrumentation can be expected. Dealing with them could require substantial changes of the on-board operating software, and of the command and telemetry database, which could potentially have unforeseen consequences for the on-board equipment. In order to avoid this risk, it is essential to test these changes on ground, before their upload. To this aim, two flight-spare cameras of the EPIC experiment (one MOS and one PN) are available on-ground. Originally they were operated through an Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) system which was developed over 15 years ago to support the test campaigns up to the launch. The EGSE used a specialized command language running on now obsolete workstations. ESA and the EPIC Consortium, therefore, decided to replace it with new equipment in order to fully reproduce on-ground the on-board configuration and to operate the cameras with SCOS2000, the same Mission Control System used by ESA to control the spacecraft. This was a demanding task, since it required both the recovery of the detailed knowledge of the original EGSE and the adjustment of SCOS for this special use. Recently this work has been completed by replacing the EGSE of one of the two cameras, which is now ready to be used by ESA. Here we describe the scope and purpose of this activity, the problems faced during its execution, the adopted solutions, and the tests performed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new EGSE.
The objective of the Diffuse X-ray emission from the Local Galaxy (DXL) sounding rocket experiment is to distinguish the soft X-ray emission due to the Local Hot Bubble (LHB) from that produced via Solar Wind charge exchange (SWCX). Enhanced interplanetary helium density in the helium focusing cone provides a spatial variation to the SWCX that can be identified by scanning through the focusing cone using an X-ray instrument with a large grasp. DXL consists of two large proportional counters refurbished from the Aerobee payload used during the Wisconsin All Sky Survey. The counters utilize P-10 fill gas and are covered by a thin Formvar window (with Cyasorb UV-24 additive) supported on a nickel mesh. DXL's large grasp is 10 cm2 sr for both the 1/4 and 3/4 keV bands. DXL was successfully launched from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on December 12, 2012 using a Terrier Mk70 Black Brant IX sounding rocket.
The Sheath Transport Observer for the Redistribution of Mass (STORM) instrument is a prototype soft
X-ray camera also successfully own on the DXL sounding rocket. STORM uses newly developed slumped micropore (`lobster eye') optics to focus X-rays onto a position sensitive, chevron configuration, microchannel plate detector. The slumped micropore optics have a 75 cm curvature radius and a polyimide/aluminum filter bonded to its surface. STORM's large field-of-view makes it ideal for imaging SWCX with exospheric hydrogen for future missions. STORM represents the first flight of lobster-eye optics in space.
We report on our continuing efforts to compare the absolute effective areas of the current generation of CCD instruments onboard the active observatories, specifically: Chandra ACIS, XMM-Newton EPIC (MOS and pn), Suzaku XIS, and Swift XRT, using 1E 0102.2-7219, the brightest supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud. 1E 0102.2-7219 has strong lines of O, Ne, and Mg below 1.5 keV and little Fe emission to complicate the spectrum. The spectrum of 1E 0102.2-7219 has been well-characterized using the RGS grating instrument on XMM-Newton and the HETG grating instrument on Chandra. We have developed an empirical model that includes Gaussians for the identified lines, an absorption component in the Galaxy, another absorption component in the SMC, and two continuum components with different temperatures. In our fits, the model is highly constrained in that only the normalizations of the four brightest line complexes (the OVII triplet, OVIII Lyα line, the NeIX triplet, and the NeX Lyα) and an overall normalization are allowed to vary, while all other components are fixed. We adopted this approach to provide a straightforward comparison of the measured line fluxes at these four energies. We find that the measured fluxes of the OVII triplet, the OVIII Lyαline, the NeIX triplet, and the NeX Lyαline generally agree to within ±10% for all instruments, with the exception of the OVII triplet and the OVIII Lyαline normalizations for the Suzaku XIS1, XIS2, & XIS3, and the Swift XRT, which can be up to 20%lower compared to the reference model.
X-ray emission from charge exchange recombination between the highly ionized solar wind and neutral material in
Earth's magnetosheath has complicated x-ray observations of celestial objects with x-ray observatories including
ROSAT, Chandra, XMM-Newton, and Suzaku. However, the charge-exchange emission can also be used as an
important diagnostic of the solar-wind interacting with the magnetosheath. Soft x-ray observations from low-earth orbit
or even the highly eccentric orbits of Chandra and XMM-Newton are likely superpositions of the celestial object of
interest, the true extra-solar soft x-ray background, geospheric charge exchange, and heliospheric charge exchange. We
show that with a small x-ray telescope placed either on the moon, in a similar vein as the Apollo ALSEP instruments, or
in a stable orbit at a similar distance from the earth, we can begin to disentangle the complicated emission structure in
the soft x-ray band. Here we present initial results of a feasibility study recently funded by NASA to place a small x-ray
telescope on the lunar surface. The telescope operates during lunar night to observe charge exchange interactions
between the solar wind and magnetosphic neutrals, between the solar wind and the lunar atmosphere, and an
unobstructed view of the soft x-ray background without the geospheric component.
The flight calibration of the spectral response of CCD instruments below 1.5 keV is difficult in general because of the lack of strong lines in the on-board calibration sources typically available.
We have been using E0102, the brightest supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud, to evaluate the response models of the ACIS CCDs on the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), the EPIC CCDs
on the XMM-Newton Observatory, the XIS CCDs on the Suzaku Observatory, and the XRT CCD on the Swift Observatory. E0102 has strong lines of
O, Ne, and Mg below 1.5 keV and little or no Fe emission to complicate the spectrum. The spectrum of E0102 has been well characterized using high-resolution grating instruments, namely the XMM-Newton RGS and the CXO HETG, through which a consistent spectral model has been developed that can then be used to fit the
lower-resolution CCD spectra. Fits with this model are sensitive to any problems with the gain calibration and the spectral redistribution model of the CCD instruments. We have also used the measured intensities of the lines to investigate the consistency of the effective area models for the various instruments around the bright O (570 eV and 654 eV) and Ne (910 eV and 1022 eV) lines. We find that the measured fluxes of the O VII triplet, the O VIII Ly-a line, the Ne IX triplet, and the Ne X Ly-a line generally agree to within ±10%
for all instruments, with 28 of our 32 fitted normalizations within ±10% of the RGS-determined value. The maximum discrepancies,
computed as the percentage difference between the lowest and highest normalization for any instrument pair, are 23% for the O VII triplet,
24% for the O VIII Ly-a line, 13% for the Ne IX~triplet, and 19% for the Ne X Ly-a line. If only the CXO and XMM are compared, the maximum
discrepancies are 22% for the O VII triplet, 16% for the O VIII Ly-a line, 4% for the Ne IX triplet, and 12% for the Ne X Ly-a line.
On December 10th 2004 the XMM-Newton observatory celebrated its 5th year in orbit. Since the beginning of the mission steady health and contamination monitoring has been performed by the XMM-Newton SOC and the instrument teams. Main targets of the monitoring, using scientific data for all instruments on board, are the behaviour of the Charge Transfer Efficiency, the gain, the effective area and the bad, hot and noisy pixels. The monitoring is performed by combination of calibration observations using internal radioactive calibration sources with observations of astronomical targets. In addition a set of housekeeping parameters is continuously monitored reflecting the health situation of the instruments from an engineering point of view. We show trend behaviour over the 5 years especially in combination with events like solar flares and other events affecting the performance of the instruments.
Various X-ray satellites have used the Crab as a standard candle to perform their calibrations in the past. The calibration of XMM-Newton, however, is independent of the Crab nebula, because this object has not been used to adjust spectral calibration issues. In 2004 a number of special observations were performed to measure the spectral parameters and the absolute flux of the Crab with XMM-Newton's EPIC-pn CCD camera. We describe the results of the campaign in detail and compare them with data of four current missions (Integral, Swift, Chandra, RXTE) and numerous previous missions (ROSAT, EXOSAT, Beppo-SAX, ASCA, Ginga, Einstein, Mir-HEXE).
XMM-Newton was launched into space on a highly eccentric 48 hour orbit on December 10th 1999. XMM-Newton is now in its fifth year of operation and has been an outstanding success, observing the Cosmos with imaging, spectroscopy and timing capabilities in the X-ray and optical wavebands. The EPIC-MOS CCD X-ray detectors comprise two out of three of the focal plane instruments on XMM-Newton. In this paper we discuss key aspects of the current status and performance history of the charge transfer ineffiency (CTI), energy resolution and spectral redistribution function (rmf) of EPIC-MOS in its fifth year of operation.
ESA's large X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton is in its fifth year of operations. We give a general overview of the status of calibration of the five X-ray instruments and the Optical Monitor. A main point of interest in the last year became the cross-calibration between the instruments. A cross-calibration campaign started at the XMM-Newton Science Operation Centre at the European Space Astronomy Centre in collaboration with the Instrument Principle Investigators provides a first systematic comparison of the X-ray instruments EPIC and RGS for various kind of sources making also an initial assessment in cross calibration with other X-ray observatories.
The XMM-Newton observatory has the largest collecting area flown so
far for an X-ray imaging system, resulting in a very high sensitivity
over a broad spectral range. In order to exploit fully these
performances, an accurate calibration of the XMM-Newton
instruments is required. This calibration is being continuously
updated, in order to refine the stable calibration parameters as well
as to account for the detector response changes induced by radiation damage. We report here on the current overall status of the EPIC/MOS cameras calibrations, and in particular on the recent work involving Charge Transfer Inefficiency evolution and recovery.
The combined effective area of the three EPIC cameras of the XMM-Newton Observatory, offers the greatest collecting power ever deployed in an X-ray imaging system. The resulting potential for high sensitivity, broad-band spectroscopic investigations demands an accurate calibration. This work summarizes the initial in-orbit calibration activities that address these requirements. We highlight the first steps towards effective area determination, which includes the maintenance of gain CTI calibration to allow accurate energy determination. We discuss observations concerning the timing and count-rate capabilities of the detectors. Finally we note some performance implications of the optical blocking filters.
The European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC) is one of the major Instruments on board the X-ray Multi-Mirror (XMM) mission planned for launch in January 2000. Ground calibrations have been performed in 1997 and 1998 on the flight and spare models of the MOS-CCD focal plane cameras at the Orsay Synchrotron Facility at IAS in France. The calibration data takings have been completed in December 1998. Details of the calibration equipment have already been presented elsewhere and at the SPIE Annual Meeting. This paper is an overview of the calibration activities and present the status and result of the calibration data analysis.