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.
The Gamma-ray Burst Polarimeter-POLAR is a highly sensitive detector which is dedicated to the measurement of GRB’s polarization with a large effective detection area and a large field of view (FOV). The optimized performance of POLAR will contribute to the capture and measurement of the transient sources like GRBs and Solar Flares. The detection energy range of POLAR is 50 keV ~ 500 keV, and mainly dominated by the Compton scattering effect. POLAR consists of 25 detector modular units (DMUs), and each DMU is composed of low Z material Plastic Scintillators (PS), multi-anode photomultipliers (MAPMT) and multi-channel ASIC Front-end Electronics (FEE). POLAR experiment is an international collaboration project involving China, Switzerland and Poland, and is expected to be launched in September in 2016 onboard the Chinese space laboratory “Tiangong-2 (TG-2)”. With the efforts from the collaborations, POLAR has experienced the Demonstration Model (DM) phase, Engineering and Qualification Model (EQM) phase, Qualification Model (QM) phase, and now a full Flight Model (FM) of POLAR has been constructed. The FM of POLAR has passed the environmental acceptance tests (thermal cycling, vibration, shock and thermal vacuum tests) and experienced the calibration tests with both radioactive sources and 100% polarized Gamma-Ray beam at ESRF after its construction. The design of POLAR, Monte-Carlo simulation analysis, as well as the performance test results will all be introduced in this paper.
The High Energy cosmic-Radiation Detection (HERD) facility is one of several space astronomy payloads of the cosmic light house program onboard China's Space Station, which is planned for operation starting around 2020 for about 10 years. Beam test with a HERD prototype, to verify the HERD specifications and the reading out method of wavelength shifting fiber and image intensified CCD, was taken at CERN SPS in November, 2015. The prototype is composed of an array of 5*5*10 LYSO crystals, which is 1/40th of the scale of HERD calorimeter. Experimental results on the performances of the calorimeter are discussed.
The X-ray Timing and Polarization (XTP) is a mission concept for a future space borne X-ray observatory and is currently selected for early phase study. We present a new design of X-ray polarimeter based on the time projection gas chamber. The polarimeter, placed above the focal plane, has an additional rear window that allows hard X-rays to penetrate (a transmission of nearly 80% at 6 keV) through it and reach the detector on the focal plane. Such a design is to compensate the low detection efficiency of gas detectors, at a low cost of sensitivity, and can maximize the science return of multilayer hard X-ray telescopes without the risk of moving focal plane instruments. The sensitivity in terms of minimum detectable polarization, based on current instrument configuration, is expected to be 3% for a 1mCrab source given an observing time of 105 s. We present preliminary test results, including photoelectron tracks and modulation curves, using a test chamber and polarized X-ray sources in the lab.
The High Energy cosmic-Radiation Detection (HERD) facility is one of several space astronomy payloads of the cosmic lighthouse program onboard China's Space Station, which is planned for operation starting around 2020 for about 10 years. The main scientific objectives of HERD are indirect dark matter search, precise cosmic ray spectrum and composition measurements up to the knee energy, and high energy gamma-ray monitoring and survey. HERD is composed of a 3-D cubic calorimeter (CALO) surrounded by microstrip silicon trackers (STKs) from five sides except the bottom. CALO is made of about 104 cubes of LYSO crystals, corresponding to about 55 radiation lengths and 3 nuclear interaction lengths, respectively. The top STK microstrips of seven X-Y layers are sandwiched with tungsten converters to make precise directional measurements of incoming electrons and gamma-rays. In the baseline design, each of the four side SKTs is made of only three layers microstrips. All STKs will also be used for measuring the charge and incoming directions of cosmic rays, as well as identifying back scattered tracks. With this design, HERD can achieve the following performance: energy resolution of 1% for electrons and gamma-rays beyond 100 GeV, 20% for protons from 100 GeV to 1 PeV; electron/proton separation power better than 10-5; effective geometrical factors of >3 m2sr for electron and diffuse gamma-rays, >2 m2sr for cosmic ray nuclei. R and D is under way for reading out the LYSO signals with optical fiber coupled to image intensified CCD and the prototype of one layer of CALO.
POLAR is a joint European-Chinese experiment aimed at a precise measurement of hard X-ray polarization (50-500 keV) of the prompt emission of Gamma-Ray Bursts. The main aim is a better understanding of the geometry of astrophysical sources and of the X-ray emission mechanisms. POLAR is a compact Compton polarimeter characterized by a large modulation factor, effective area, and field of view. It consists of 1600 low-Z plastic scintillator bars read out by 25 at-panel multi-anode photomultipliers. The incoming X-rays undergo Compton scattering in the bars and produce a modulation pattern; experiments with polarized synchrotron radiation and GEANT4 Monte Carlo simulations have shown that the polarization degree and angle can be retrieved from this pattern with the accuracy necessary for identifying the GRB mechanism. The flight model of POLAR is currently under construction in Geneva. The POLAR instrument will be placed onboard the Chinese spacelab TG-2, scheduled for launch in low Earth orbit in 2015. The main milestones of the space qualification campaign will be described in the paper.
The High Energy cosmic-Radiation Detection (HERD) facility onboard China's Space Station is planned for operation starting around 2020 for about 10 years. It is designed as a next generation space facility focused on indirect dark matter search, precise cosmic ray spectrum and composition measurements up to the knee energy, and high energy gamma-ray monitoring and survey. The calorimeter plays an essential role in the main scientific objectives of HERD. A 3-D cubic calorimeter filled with high granularity crystals as active material is a very promising choice for the calorimeter. HERD is mainly composed of a 3-D calorimeter (CALO) surrounded by silicon trackers (TK) from all five sides except the bottom. CALO is made of 9261 cubes of LYSO crystals, corresponding to about 55 radiation lengths and 3 nuclear interaction lengths, respectively. Here the simulation results of the performance of CALO with GEANT4 and FLUKA are presented: 1) the total absorption CALO and its absorption depth for precise energy measurements (energy resolution: 1% for electrons and gammarays beyond 100 GeV, 20% for protons from 100 GeV to 1 PeV); 2) its granularity for particle identification (electron/proton separation power better than 10-5); 3) the homogenous geometry for detecting particles arriving from every unblocked direction for large effective geometrical factor (<3 m2sr for electron and diffuse gammarays, >2 m2sr for cosmic ray nuclei); 4) expected observational results such as gamma-ray line spectrum from dark matter annihilation and spectrum measurement of various cosmic ray chemical components.
The X-ray Timing and Polarization (XTP) satellite, planned for launch in ~2020, is dedicated to the study of 1- singularity (Black Hole), 2-stars (normal neutron star and magnetar) and 3-extremes (the physics under extreme gravity, density and magnetism). With an effective area of ~1 m2 and a combination of various types of X-ray telescopes, XTP is expected to make the most sensitive temporal and polarization observations with good energy resolution in 1-30 keV. XTP will open a new window using its powerful capability of polarization observations; its minimum detectable polarization will be 3% (1 mCrab, 1e6 s).
POLAR is a Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) polarization experiment in the energy range 50-500 keV. Detection
principle of the gamma-ray polarization is based on the anisotropy of the Compton scattering. POLAR consists
of 1600 low-Z plastic scintillator bars, read out by 25 flat-panel multianode photomultipliers. Simulations and
experiments have shown that the polarization degree and angle can be retrieved from the modulation curves
with the required accuracy. POLAR can reach a minimum detectable polarization of about 10%(3-sigma level)
for several strongest GRB detections per year. Construction and assembly of the Qualification Model (QM) are
ongoing, in view of a flight onboard of the Chinese Spacelab TG-2 scheduled for 2014.
We present the SVOM mission that the Chinese National Space Agency and the French Space Agency have decided to jointly implement. SVOM has been designed to detect, characterise and quickly localise gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and other types of high-energy transients. For this task the spacecraft will carry two widefield high-energy instruments: ECLAIRs, a hard X-ray imager, and the Gamma-Ray Monitor, a broadband spectrometer. Upon localising a transient, SVOM will quickly slew towards the source and start deep followup observations with two narrow-field telescopes: the Micro-channel X-ray Telescope in X-rays and the Visible Telescope in the visible. The nearly anti-solar pointing of SVOM combined with the fast transmission of GRB positions to the ground in less than 1 minute, will facilitate the observations of SVOM transients by the largest ground based telescopes.