ATHENA is a Large high energy astrophysics space mission selected by ESA in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Science Program. It will be equipped with two interchangeable focal plane detectors: the X-Ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) and the Wide Field Imager (WFI). Both detectors require x-ray transparent filters to fully exploit their sensitivity. In order to maximize the X-ray transparency, filters must be very thin, from a few tens to few hundreds of nm, on the other hand, they must be strong enough to survive the severe launch stresses. In particular, the WFI OBF, being launched in atmospheric pressure, shall also survive acoustic loads. In this paper, we present a review of the structural modeling performed to assist the ATHENA filters design, the preliminary results from vibration and acoustic tests, and we discuss future activities necessary to consolidate the filters design, before the preliminary requirement review of the ATHENA instruments, scheduled before the end of 2018.
The X-IFU instrument of the ATHENA mission requires a set of thermal filters to reduce the photon shot noise onto its cryogenic detector and to protect it from molecular contamination. A set of five filters, operating at different nominal temperatures corresponding to the cryostat shield temperatures, is currently baselined. The knowledge of the actual filter temperature profiles is crucial to have a good estimation of the radiative load on the detector. Furthermore, a few filters may need to be warmed-up to remove contaminants and it is necessary to ensure that a threshold temperature is reached throughout the filters surface. For these reasons, it is fundamental to develop a thermal modeling of the full set of filters in a representative configuration. The baseline filter is a polyimide membrane 45 nm thick coated with 30 nm of highpurity aluminum, mechanically supported by a metallic honeycomb mesh. In this paper, we describe the implemented thermal modeling and report the results obtained in different studies: (i) a trade-off analysis on how to reach a minimum target temperature throughout the outer filter, (ii) a thermal analysis when varying the emissivity of the filter surfaces, and (iii) the effect of removing one of the filters.
The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) is one of the two instruments of the Athena astrophysics space mission approved by ESA in the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Science Programme. The X-IFU consists of a large array of transition edge sensor micro-calorimeters that will operate at ~100 mK inside a sophisticated cryostat. A set of thin filters, highly transparent to X-rays, will be mounted on the opening windows of the cryostat thermal shields in order to attenuate the IR radiative load, to attenuate radio frequency electromagnetic interferences, and to protect the detector from contamination. Thermal filters are critical items in the proper operation of the X-IFU detector in space. They need to be strong enough to survive the launch stresses but very thin to be highly transparent to X-rays. They essentially define the detector quantum efficiency at low energies and are fundamental to make the photon shot noise a negligible contribution to the energy resolution budget. In this paper, we review the main results of modeling and characterization tests of the thermal filters performed during the phase A study to identify the suitable materials, optimize the design, and demonstrate that the chosen technology can reach the proper readiness before mission adoption.