The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched in June 2012, flies two conical approximation Wolter-I mirrors at the end of a 10.15-m mast. The optics are coated with multilayers of Pt/C and W/Si that operate from 3 to 80 keV. Since the optical path is not shrouded, aperture stops are used to limit the field of view (FoV) from background and sources outside the FoV. However, there is still a sliver of sky (∼1.0 deg to 4.0 deg) where photons may bypass the optics altogether and fall directly on the detector array. We term these photons stray light. Additionally, there are also photons that do not undergo the focused double reflections in the optics, and we term these ghost rays. We present detailed analysis and characterization of these two components and discuss how they impact observations. Finally, we discuss how they could have been prevented and should be in future observatories.
Arcus, a Medium Explorer (MIDEX) mission, was selected by NASA for a Phase A study in August 2017. The observatory provides high-resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy in the 12-50Å bandpass with unprecedented sensitivity: effective areas of >450 cm2 and spectral resolution >2500. The Arcus key science goals are (1) to measure the effects of structure formation imprinted upon the hot baryons that are predicted to lie in extended halos around galaxies, groups, and clusters, (2) to trace the propagation of outflowing mass, energy, and momentum from the vicinity of the black hole to extragalactic scales as a measure of their feedback and (3) to explore how stars, circumstellar disks and exoplanet atmospheres form and evolve. Arcus relies upon the same 12m focal length grazing-incidence silicon pore X-ray optics (SPO) that ESA has developed for the Athena mission; the focal length is achieved on orbit via an extendable optical bench. The focused X-rays from these optics are diffracted by high-efficiency Critical-Angle Transmission (CAT) gratings, and the results are imaged with flight-proven CCD detectors and electronics. The power and telemetry requirements on the spacecraft are modest. Mission operations are straightforward, as most observations will be long (~100 ksec), uninterrupted, and pre-planned, although there will be capabilities to observe sources such as tidal disruption events or supernovae with a ~3 day turnaround. Following the 2nd year of operation, Arcus will transition to a proposal-driven guest observatory facility.
Pixelated Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CdZnTe) detectors are currently flying on the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray (NuSTAR) NASA Astrophysics Small Explorer. While the pixel pitch of the detectors is ≈ 605 μm, we can leverage the detector readout architecture to determine the interaction location of an individual photon to much higher spatial accuracy. The sub-pixel spatial location allows us to finely oversample the point spread function of the optics and reduces imaging artifacts due to pixelation. In this paper we demonstrate how the sub-pixel information is obtained, how the detectors were calibrated, and provide ground verification of the quantum efficiency of our Monte Carlo model of the detector response.
Arcus will be proposed to the NASA Explorer program as a free-flying satellite mission that will enable high-resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy (8-50) with unprecedented sensitivity – effective areas of >500 sq cm and spectral resolution >2500. The Arcus key science goals are (1) to determine how baryons cycle in and out of galaxies by measuring the effects of structure formation imprinted upon the hot gas that is predicted to lie in extended halos around galaxies, groups, and clusters, (2) to determine how black holes influence their surroundings by tracing the propagation of out-flowing mass, energy and momentum from the vicinity of the black hole out to large scales and (3) to understand how accretion forms and evolves stars and circumstellar disks by observing hot infalling and outflowing gas in these systems. Arcus relies upon grazing-incidence silicon pore X-ray optics with the same 12m focal length (achieved using an extendable optical bench) that will be used for the ESA Athena mission. The focused X-rays from these optics will then be diffracted by high-efficiency off-plane reflection gratings that have already been demonstrated on sub-orbital rocket flights, imaging the results with flight-proven CCD detectors and electronics. The power and telemetry requirements on the spacecraft are modest. The majority of mission operations will not be complex, as most observations will be long (~100 ksec), uninterrupted, and pre-planned, although there will be limited capabilities to observe targets of opportunity, such as tidal disruption events or supernovae with a 3-5 day turnaround. After the end of prime science, we plan to allow guest observations to maximize the science return of Arcus to the community.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is the first focusing high energy (3-79 keV) X-ray observatory operating for four years from low Earth orbit. The X-ray detector arrays are located on the spacecraft bus with the optics modules mounted on a flexible mast of 10.14m length. The motion of the telescope optical axis on the detectors during each observation is measured by a laser metrology system and matches the pre-launch predictions of the thermal flexing of the mast as the spacecraft enters and exits the Earths shadow each orbit. However, an additional motion of the telescope field of view was discovered during observatory commissioning that is associated with the spacecraft attitude control system and an additional flexing of the mast correlated with the Solar aspect angle for the observation. We present the methodology developed to predict where any particular target coordinate will fall on the NuSTAR detectors based on the Solar aspect angle at the scheduled time of an observation. This may be applicable to future observatories that employ optics deployed on extendable masts. The automation of the prediction system has greatly improved observatory operations efficiency and the reliability of observation planning.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is the first focusing high energy (3-79 keV) X-ray observatory. The NuSTAR project is led by Caltech, which hosts the Science Operations Center (SOC), with mission operations managed by UCB Space Sciences Laboratory. We present an overview of NuSTAR science operations and describe the on-orbit performance of the observatory. The SOC is enhancing science operations to serve the community with a guest observing program beginning in 2015. We present some of the challenges and approaches taken by the SOC to operating a full service space observatory that maximizes the scientific return from the mission.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite is a NASA Small Explorer mission designed to operate the first focusing high-energy X-ray (3-79 keV) telescope in orbit. Since the launch in June 2012, all the NuSTAR components have been working normally. The focal plane module is equipped with an 155Eu radioactive source to irradiate the CdZnTe pixel detectors for independent calibration separately from optics. The inflight spectral calibration of the CdZnTe detectors is performed with the onboard 155Eu source. The derived detector performance agrees well with ground-measured data. The in-orbit detector background rate is stable and the lowest among past high-energy X-ray instruments.
We present results of the point spread function (PSF) calibration of the hard X-ray optics of the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). Immediately post-launch, NuSTAR has observed bright point sources such as Cyg X-1, Vela X-1, and Her X-1 for the PSF calibration. We use the point source observations taken at several off-axis angles together with a ray-trace model to characterize the in-orbit angular response, and find that the ray-trace model alone does not fit the observed event distributions and applying empirical corrections to the ray-trace model improves the fit significantly. We describe the corrections applied to the ray-trace model and show that the uncertainties in the enclosed energy fraction (EEF) of the new PSF model is (approximately less than) 3% for extraction apertures of R (approximately greater than) 60″ with no significant energy dependence. We also show that the PSF of the NuSTAR optics has been stable over a period of ~300 days during its in-orbit operation.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission was launched on 2012 June 13 and is the first focusing high-energy X-ray telescope in orbit operating above ~10 keV. NuSTAR flies two co-aligned Wolter-I conical approximation X-ray optics, coated with Pt/C and W/Si multilayers, and combined with a focal length of 10.14 meters this enables operation from 3-79 keV. The optics focus onto two focal plane arrays, each consisting of 4 CdZnTe pixel detectors, for a field of view of 12.5 arcminutes. The inherently low background associated with concentrating the X-ray light enables NuSTAR to probe the hard X-ray sky with a more than 100-fold improvement in sensitivity, and with an effective point spread function FWHM of 18 arcseconds (HPD ~1), NuSTAR provides a leap of improvement in resolution over the collimated or coded mask instruments that have operated in this bandpass. We present in-orbit performance details of the observatory and highlight important science results from the first two years of the mission.
The capability of NuSTAR to detect polarization in the Compton scattering regime (>50 keV) has been investigated. The
NuSTAR mission, flown on June 2012 a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), provides a unique possibility to confirm the findings of
INTEGRAL on the polarization of cosmic sources in the hard X-rays. Each of the two focal plane detectors are high
resolution pixellated CZT arrays, sensitive in the energy range ~ 3 - 80 keV. These units have intrinsic polarization
capabilities when the proper information on the double events is transmitted on ground. In this case it will be possible to
detect polarization from bright sources on timescales of the order of 105 s
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched in June 2012 carries the first focusing hard Xray (5 - 80 keV) telescope to orbit. The on-ground calibration was performed at the RaMCaF facility at Nevis, Columbia University. During the assembly of the telescopes, mechanical surface metrology provided surface maps of the reflecting surfaces. Several flight coated mirrors were brought to BNL for scattering measurements. The information from both sources is fed to a raytracing code that is tested against the on-ground calibration data. The code is subsequently used for predicting the imaging properties for X-ray sources at infinite distance.
Recent technological innovations make it feasible to construct efficient hard x-ray telescopes for space-based
astronomical missions. Focusing optics are capable of improving the sensitivity in the energy range above 10 keV
by orders of magnitude compared to previously used instruments. The last decade has seen focusing optics
developed for balloon experiments and they are implemented in approved space missions such as the Nuclear
Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). The full characterization of x-ray optics for astrophysical missions,
including measurement of the point spread function (PSF) as well as scattering and reflectivity properties of substrate coatings, requires a large area detector with very high spatial resolution and sensitivity, photon counting
and energy discriminating capability. Novel back-thinned Electron Multiplying Charge-Coupled Devices (EMCCDs) are suitable detectors for ground-based calibrations if combined with a scintillating material. This optical
coupling of the EMCCD chip to a microcolumnar CsI(Tl) scintillator can be achieved via a fiberoptic taper. Not
only does this detector system exhibit low noise and high spatial resolution inherent to CCDs, but the EMCCD
is also able to handle high frame rates. Additionally, thick CsI(Tl) yields high detection efficiency for x-rays. In
this paper, we discuss the advantages of using an EMCCD to calibrate hard x-ray optics. We will illustrate the
promising features of this detector solution using examples of data obtained during the ground calibration of the
NuSTAR telescopes performed at Columbia University during 2010/2011. Finally, we give an outlook on latest
development and optimizations.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will carry the
first focusing hard X-ray (5-80 keV ) telescope to orbit. The ground calibration of the three flight optics was
carried out at the Rainwater Memorial Calibration Facility (RaMCaF) built for this purpose. In this article we
present the facility and its use for the ground calibration of the three optics.
The NuSTAR mission will be the first mission to carry a hard X-ray(5-80 keV) focusing telescope to orbit. The optics
are based on the use of multilayer coated thin slumped glass. Two different material combinations were used for the
flight optics, namely W/Si and Pt/C. In this paper we describe the entire coating effort including the final coating design
that was used for the two flight optics. We also present data on the performance verification of the coatings both on Si
witness samples as well as on individual flight mirrors.
NuSTAR is a hard X-ray satellite experiment to be launched in 2012. Two optics with 10.15 m focal length focus Xrays
with energies between 5 and 80 keV onto CdZnTe detectors located at the end of a deployable mast. The FM1 and
FM2 flight optics were built at the same time based on the same design and with very similar components, and thus the
performance of both is expected to be very similar. We provide an overview of calibration data that is being used to
build an optics response model for each optic and describe initial results for energies above 10 keV from the ground
calibration of the flight optics. From a preliminary analysis of the data, our current best determination of the overall
HPD of both the FM1 and FM2 flight optics is 52", and nearly independent of energy. The statistical error is negligible,
and a preliminary estimate of the systematic error is of order 4". The as-measured effective area and HPD meet the toplevel
NuSTAR mission sensitivity requirements.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will make the first sensitive images of the sky in the high energy X-ray band (6 - 80 keV). The NuSTAR observatory consists of two co-aligned grazing incidence hard X-ray telescopes with a ~10 meter focal length, achieved by the on-orbit extension of a deployable mast.
A principal science objective of the mission is to locate previously unknown high-energy X-ray sources to an accuracy of 10 arcseconds (3-sigma), sufficient to uniquely identify counterparts at other wavelengths. In order to achieve this, a star tracker and laser metrology system are an integral part of the instrument; in conjunction, they will determine the orientation of the optics bench in celestial coordinates and also measure the flexures in the deployable mast as it responds to the varying on-orbit thermal environment, as well as aerodynamic and control torques. The architecture of the NuSTAR system for solving the attitude and aspect problems differs from that of previous X-ray telescopes, which
did not require ex post facto reconstruction of the instantaneous observatory alignment on-orbit.
In this paper we describe the NuSTAR instrument metrology system architecture and implementation, focusing on the systems engineering challenges associated with validating the instantaneous transformations between focal plane and celestial coordinates to within the required accuracy. We present a mathematical solution to photon source reconstruction, along with a detailed error budget that relates component errors to science performance. We also describe the architecture of the instrument simulation software being used to validate the end-to-end performance model.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will carry the first focusing hard X-ray (6 - 80 keV) telescope to orbit. NuSTAR will offer a factor 50 - 100 sensitivity improvement compared to previous collimated or coded mask imagers that have operated in this energy band. In addition, NuSTAR provides sub-arcminute imaging with good spectral resolution over a 12-arcminute eld of view. After
launch, NuSTAR will carry out a two-year primary science mission that focuses on four key programs: studying the evolution of massive black holes through surveys carried out in fields with excellent multiwavelength coverage, understanding the population of compact objects and the nature of the massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, constraining the explosion dynamics and nucleosynthesis in supernovae, and probing the nature of particle acceleration in relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei. A number of additional observations will be included in the primary mission, and a guest observer program will be proposed for an extended mission to expand the range of scientic targets. The payload consists of two co-aligned depth-graded multilayer coated grazing incidence optics focused onto a solid state CdZnTe pixel detectors. To be launched in early 2012 on a Pegasus rocket into a low-inclination Earth orbit, NuSTAR largely avoids SAA passage, and will therefore have low and
stable detector backgrounds. The telescope achieves a 10.14-meter focal length through on-orbit deployment of an extendable mast. An aspect and alignment metrology system enable reconstruction of the absolute aspect and variations in the telescope alignment resulting from mast exure during ground data processing. Data will
be publicly available at GSFC's High Energy Archive Research Center (HEASARC) following validation at the science operations center located at Caltech.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, NuSTAR, is a NASA funded Small Explorer Mission, SMEX, scheduled
for launch in mid 2011. The spacecraft will fly two co-aligned conical approximation Wolter-I optics with a
focal length of 10 meters. The mirrors will be deposited with Pt/SiC and W/Si multilayers to provide a broad
band reflectivity from 6 keV up to 78.4 keV. To optimize the mirror coating we use a Figure of Merit procedure
developed for gazing incidence optics, which averages the effective area over the energy range, and combines an
energy weighting function with an angular weighting function to control the shape of the desired effective area.
The NuSTAR multilayers are depth graded with a power-law, di = a/(b + i)c, and we optimize over the total
number of bi-layers, N, c, and the maximum bi-layer thickness, dmax. The result is a 10 mirror group design
optimized for a flat even energy response both on and off-axis.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA satellite mission scheduled for launch in 2011. Using focusing optics with multilayer coating for enhanced reflectivity of hard X-rays (6-79 keV), NuSTAR will provide a combination of clarity, sensitivity and spectral resolution surpassing the largest observatories in this band by orders of magnitude. This advance will allow NuSTAR to test theories of how heavy elements are born, discover collapsed stars and black holes on all scales and explore the most extreme physical environments. We will present an overview of the NuSTAR optics design and production process and detail the optics performance.
The materials chosen for depth graded multilayer designs for hard x-ray telescopes (10 keV to 80 keV) have until now been focusing on W/Si, W/SiC, Pt/C, and Pt/SiC. These material combinations have been chosen because of good stability over time and low interface roughness, However both W and Pt have absorption edges in the interesting energy range from 70 - 80 keV. If looking at the optical constants Cu and Ni would be good alternative high-Z candidates since the k-absorption edges in Cu and Ni is below 10 keV. We have investigated both of these materials as the reflecting layer in combination with SiC as the spacer layer and give the performance in terms of roughness, minimum obtainable d-spacing and stability over time as deposited in our planar magnetron sputtering facility. Likewise we review the same properties of WC/SiC coatings which we have previously developed and which allow for very small d-spacings. The combination of WC/SiC or the well established W/SiC with the above mentioned Cu and Ni-containing multilayers in the same stack allows for novel telescope designs operating up to and above 100 keV without the absorption edge structure.
Current multilayer designs for 10-80 keV hard X-ray telescope missions have focused primarily on the proven
properties of W and Pt based multilayer coatings. Recently a number of new material combinations and coating
capabilities have emerged which allows for more elaborate designs that can further extend the energy band of current
mission designs as well as avoid some of the unwanted absorption edge effects in the effective area near potentially
important line emission energies. These new design possibilities are investigated for current hard X-ray mission designs.
The new material combinations to be considered are recently proven capabilities of enhanced NiV/C coatings and
NiV/SiC coatings in conjuction with the well-established W based coatings.
Graded depth multi-layer coatings have the potential to optimise the performance of X-ray reflective surfaces for improved energy response. A study of deposition techniques on silicon substrates representative of the XEUS High Performance Pore Optics (HPO) technology has been carried out. Measurements at synchrotron radiation facilities have been used to confirm the excellent performance improvements achievable with Mo/Si and W/Si multilayers. Future activities that will be necessary to implement such coatings in the HPO assembly sequence are highlighted. Further coating developments that may allow an optimisation of the XEUS effective area in light of potential changes to science requirements and telescope configurations are also identified. Finally an initial measurement of effects of radiation damage within the multilayers is reported.
This paper will discuss the coatings for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and describe the updates of the coating facility at the Danish National Space Center, necessary to make all the coatings in the required time frame. The inner part of the three NuSTAR telescopes will be coated with Pt/SiC and the outer part with W/SiC. To understand the roughness of the flight coatings, we will present results from 10 bilayer constant d-spacing coatings for both types of flight coatings. Also, data showing the homogeneity over the octant mirror segments as well as X-ray data from realistic depth graded coatings will be presented. The long time stability and stress in the coatings will be discussed.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a small explorer (SMEX) mission currently under an extended Phase A study by NASA. NuSTAR will be the first satellite mission to employ focusing optics in the hard X-ray band (8-80 keV). Its design eliminates high detector backgrounds, allows true imaging, and permits the use of compact high performance detectors. The result: a combination of clarity, sensitivity, and spectral resolution surpassing the largest observatories that have operated in this band by orders of magnitude. We present an overview of the NuSTAR optics design and production process. We also describe the progress of several components of our independent optics development program that are beginning to reach maturity and could possibly be incorporated into the NuSTAR production scheme. We then present environmental test results that are being conducted in preparation of full space qualification of the NuSTAR optics.
We have identified an inexpensive, readily available, mechanically stable, extremely smooth, elastic, and mechanically uniform plastic suitable for thin film X-ray optics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is easily deformed without losing its elastic properties or surface smoothness. Most important, PET can be coated with mono- or multilayers that reflect X-rays at grazing incidence. We have used these properties to produce X-ray optics made either as a concentric nest of cylinders or as a spiral. We have produced accurately formed shells in precisely machined vacuum mandresl or used a pin and wheel structure to form a continuously wound spiral. The wide range of medical, industrial and scientific applications for our technology includes: a monochromatic X-ray collimater for medical diagnostics, a relay optic to transport an X-ray beam from the target in a scanning electron microscop0e to a lithium-drifted silicon and microcalorimeter detectors and a satellite mounted telescope to collect celestial X-rays. A wide variety of mono- and multilayer coatings allow X-rays up to ~100 keV to be reflected. Our paper presents data from a variety of diagnostic measurements on the properties of the PET foil and imaging results form single- and multi-shell lenses.
Focusing optics are now poised to dramatically improve the sensitivity and angular resolution at energies above 10 keV to levels that were previously unachievable by the past generation of background limited collimated and coded-aperture instruments. Active balloon programs (HEFT), possible Explorer-class satellites (NuSTAR - currently under Phase A study), and major X-ray observatories (Con-X HXT) using focusing optics will play a major role in future observations of a wide range of objects including young supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei, and galaxy clusters. These instruments call for low cost, grazing incidence optics coated with depth-graded multilayer films that can be nested to achieve large collecting areas. Our approach to building such instruments is to mount segmented mirror shells with our novel error-compensating, monolithic assembly and alignment (EMAAL) procedure. This process involves constraining the mirror segments to successive layers of graphite rods that are precisely machined to the required conic-approximation Wolter-I geometry. We present results of our continued development of thermally formed glass substrates that have been used to build three HEFT telescopes and are proposed for NuSTAR. We demonstrate how our experience in manufacturing complete HEFT telescopes, as well as our experience developing higher performance prototype optics, will lead to the successful production of telescopes that meet the NuSTAR design goals.
This paper outlines an in-depth study of the W/Si coated mirrors for the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT). We present data taken at 8, 40 and 60 keV obtained at the Danish Space Research Institute and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. The set of samples were chosen to cover the parameter space of sample type, sample size and coating type. The investigation includes a study of the interfacial roughness across the sample surface, as substrates and later as coated, and an analysis of the roughness correlation in the W/Si coatings for N = 10 deposited bilayers. The powerlaw graded flight coating for the HEFT mirrors is studied for uniformity and scatter, as well as its performance at high energies.
Complete hard X-ray optics modules are currently being produced for the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT), a balloon born mission that will observe a wide range of objects including young supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei, and galaxy clusters at energies between 20 and 70 keV. Large collecting areas are achieved by tightly nesting layers of grazing incidence mirrors in a conic approximation Wolter-I design. The segmented layers are made of thermally-formed glass substrates coated with depth-graded multilayer films for enhanced reflectivity. Our novel mounting technique involves constraining these mirror segments to successive layers of precisely machined graphite spacers. We report the production and calibration of the first HEFT optics module.
We report on the coating of depth graded W/Si multilayers on the thermally slumped glass substrates for the HEFT flight telescopes. The coatings consists of several hundred bilayers in an optimized graded power law design with stringent requirements on uniformity and interfacial roughness. We present the details of the planar magnetron sputtering facility including the optimization of power, Ar pressure and collimating geometry which allows us to coat the several thousand mirror segments required for each telescope module on a time schedule consistent with the current HEFT balloon project as well as future hard X-ray satellite projects. Results are presented on the uniformity, interfacial roughness, and reflectivity and scatter at hard X-ray energies.