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17 September 2012 The x-ray microcalorimeter spectrometer onboard Athena
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One of the instruments on the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (Athena) which was one of the three missions under study as one of the L-class missions of ESA, is the X-ray Microcalorimeter Spectrometer (XMS). This instrument, which will provide high-spectral resolution images, is based on X-ray micro-calorimeters with Transition Edge Sensor (TES) and absorbers that consist of metal and semi-metal layers and a multiplexed SQUID readout. The array (32 x 32 pixels) provides an energy resolution of < 3 eV. Due to the large collection area of the Athena optics, the XMS instrument must be capable of processing high counting rates, while maintaining the spectral resolution and a low deadtime. In addition, an anti-coincidence detector is required to suppress the particle-induced background. Compared to the requirements for the same instrument on IXO, the performance requirements have been relaxed to fit into the much more restricted boundary conditions of Athena. In this paper we illustrate some of the science achievable with the instrument. We describe the results of design studies for the focal plane assembly and the cooling systems. Also, the system and its required spacecraft resources will be given.
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