IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) is the next Nasa Small Explorer mission foreseen for the lunch in 2021. It is a partnership with the Italian Space Agency (ASI). IXPE is devoted to X-ray polarimetry in the 2-8 keV energy band. The IXPE telescope comprises three grazing incidence mirror modules coupled to three detector units hosting each one a Gas Pixel Detector (GPD) polarimeter. The GPD exploits the photoelectric effect to measure the linear polarization of the X-ray emission from astrophysical sources. A wide and accurate on ground calibration was carried out on the IXPE detector units at INAF-IAPS in Italy. A dedicated facility was set-up to calibrate the detector units with polarized and unpolarised X-rays at different energies before Instrument integration.
IXPE, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, is a NASA SMEX mission with an important contribution of ASI that will be launched with a Falcon 9 in 2021 and will reopen the window of X-ray polarimetry after more than 40 years. The payload features three identical telescopes each one hosting one light-weight X-ray mirror fabricated by MSFC and one detector unit with its in-orbit calibration system and the Gas Pixel Detector sensitive to imaging X-ray polarization fabricated by INAF/IAPS, INFN and OHB Italy. The focal length after boom deployment from ATK-Orbital is 4 m, while the spacecraft is being fabricated by Ball Aerospace. The sensitivity will be better than 5.5% in 300 ks for a 1E-11 erg/s/cm2 (half mCrab) in the energy band of 2-8 keV allowing for sensitive polarimetry of extended and point-like X-ray sources. The focal plane instrument is completed, calibrated and it is going to be delivered at MSFC. We will present the status of the mission at about one year from the launch.
The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) will add polarization to the properties (time, energy, and position) observed in x-ray astronomy. A NASA Astrophysics Small Explorer (SMEX) in partnership with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), IXPE will measure the 2–8-keV polarization of a few dozen sources during the first 2 years following its 2021 launch. The IXPE Observatory includes three identical x-ray telescopes, each comprising a 4-m-focal-length (grazingincidence) mirror module assembly (MMA) and a polarization-sensitive (imaging) detector unit (DU), separated by a deployable optical bench. The Observatory’s Spacecraft provides typical subsystems (mechanical, structural, thermal, power, electrical, telecommunications, etc.), an attitude determination and control subsystem for 3-axis stabilized pointing, and a command and data handling subsystem communicating with the science instrument and the Spacecraft subsystems.