18 July 2016 Thermal analysis of the WFI on the ATHENA observatory
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Abstract
The WFI (Wide-Field Imager) instrument is one of two instruments of the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High- ENergy Astrophysics) mission. ATHENA is the second L-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision plan with launch in 2028 and will address the science theme “The Hot and Energetic Universe” by measuring hot gas in clusters and groups of galaxies as well as matter flow in black holes.

A moveable mirror assembly focusses the X-ray light to the focal plane of the WFI. The instrument consists of two separate detectors, one with a large DEPFET array of 512x512 pixels and one small and fast detector with 64x64 DEPFET pixels and a readout time of only 80 μs. The mirror system will achieve an angular resolution of 5” HEW. The rather large field of view of 40’x40’ in combination with rather high power consumption is challenging not only for the thermal control system.

DEPFET sensors as well as front-end electronics and electronics boxes have to be cooled, where a completely passive cooling system with radiators and heat pipes is highly favored. In order to reduce the necessary radiator area, three separate cooling chains with three different temperature levels have been foreseen. So only the DEPFET sensors are cooled down to the lowest temperature of about 190K, while the front-end electronics is supposed to be operated between 250K and 290K. The electronics boxes can be operated at room temperature, nevertheless the excess heat has to be removed.

After first estimations of heat loads and radiator areas, a more detailed model of the camera head has been used to identify gradients between the cooling interfaces and the components to be cooled. This information is used within phase A1 of the project to further optimize the design of the instrument, e.g. material selection.
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Maria Fürmetz, Daniel Pietschner, Norbert Meidinger, "Thermal analysis of the WFI on the ATHENA observatory", Proc. SPIE 9905, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, 99052E (18 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232762; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2232762
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