The Water Recovery X-ray Rocket (WRXR) mission was a sounding rocket flight that targeted the northern part of the Vela supernova remnant with a camera designed to image the diffracted X-rays using a grating spectrometer optimized for OVII, OVIII, and CVI emissions. The readout camera for WRXR utilized a silicon hybrid CMOS detector (HCD) with an active area of 36.9 36.9 mm. A modified H2RG X-ray HCD, with 1024 1024 active silicon pixels bonded to the H2RG read-out integrated circuit, was selected for this mission based on its characteristics, technology maturation, and ease of implementation into the existing payload. This required a new camera package for the HCD to be designed, built, calibrated, and operated. This detector and camera system were successfully operated in-flight and its characteristics were demonstrated using the on-board calibration X-ray source. In this paper, a detailed description of this process, from design concept to flight performance, will be given. A full integrated instrument calibration will also be discussed, as well as the temperature dependency measurements of gain variation, read noise, and energy resolution for the HCD.
X-ray Hybrid CMOS Detectors (HCDs) have advantages over X-ray CCDs due to their higher readout rate abilities, flexible readout, inherent radiation hardness, and low power, which make them more suitable for the next generation large-area X-ray telescope missions. The Penn State high energy astronomy laboratory has been working on the development and characterization of HCDs in collaboration with Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS). A custom-made H2RG detector with 36 μm pixel pitch and 18 μm ROIC shows an improved performance over standard H1RG detectors, primarily due to a reduced level of inter-pixel capacitance crosstalk (IPC). However, the energy resolution and the noise of the detector and readout system are still limited when utilizing a SIDECAR at non-cryogenic temperatures. We characterized an H2RG detector with a Cryo-SIDECAR readout and controller, and we find an improved energy resolution of ∼2.7 % at 5.9 keV and read noise of ∼6.5 e- . Detections of the ∼0.525 keV Oxygen Kα and ∼0.277 keV Carbon Kα lines with this detector display an improved sensitivity level at lower energies. This detector was successfully flown on NASA’s first water recovery sounding rocket flight on April 4th, 2018. We have also been developing several new HCDs with potential applications for future X-ray astronomy missions. We are characterizing the performance of small-pixel HCDs (12.5 μm pitch), which are important for the development of a next-generation high-resolution imager with HCDs. The latest results on these small pixel detectors has shown them to have the best read noise and energy resolution to-date for any X-ray HCD, with a measured 5.5 e- read noise for a detector with in-pixel correlated double sampling. Event recognition in HCDs is another exciting prospect. We characterized a 64 × 64 pixel prototype Speedster-EXD detector that uses comparators in each pixel to read out only those pixels having detectable signal, thereby providing an order of magnitude improvement in the effective readout rate. Currently, we are working on the development of a large area Speedster-EXD with a 550 × 550 pixel array. HCDs can also be utilized as a large FOV instrument to study the prompt and afterglow emissions of GRBs and detect black hole transients. In this context, we are characterizing a Lobster-HCD system for future CubeSat experiments. This paper briefly presents these new developments and experimental results.