The Swift Gamma-ray Burst (GRB) observatory responds to GRB triggers with optical observations in ~ 100 s, butcannot respond faster than ~ 60 s. While some rapid-response ground-based telescopes have responded quickly, thenumber of sub-60 s detections remains small. In 2013 June, the Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory-Pathfinder is expected tobe launched on the Lomonosov spacecraft to investigate early optical GRB emission. Though possessing uniquecapability for optical rapid-response, this pathfinder mission is necessarily limited in sensitivity and event rate; here wediscuss the next generation of rapid-response space observatory instruments. We list science topics motivating ourinstruments, those that require rapid optical-IR GRB response, including: A survey of GRB rise shapes/times,measurements of optical bulk Lorentz factors, investigation of magnetic dominated (vs. non-magnetic) jet models,internal vs. external shock origin of prompt optical emission, the use of GRBs for cosmology, and dust evaporation inthe GRB environment. We also address the impacts of the characteristics of GRB observing on our instrument andobservatory design. We describe our instrument designs and choices for a next generation space observatory as a secondinstrument on a low-earth orbit spacecraft, with a 120 kg instrument mass budget. Restricted to relatively modest mass,power, and launch resources, we find that a coded mask X-ray camera with 1024 cm2 of detector area could rapidlylocate about 64 GRB triggers/year. Responding to the locations from the X-ray camera, a 30 cm aperture telescope witha beam-steering system for rapid (~ 1 s) response and a near-IR camera should detect ~ 29 GRB, given Swift GRBproperties. The additional optical camera would permit the measurement of a broadband optical-IR slope, allowingbetter characterization of the emission, and dynamic measurement of dust extinction at the source, for the first time.
The Ultra Fast Flash Observatory pathfinder (UFFO-p) is a telescope system designed for the detection of the prompt optical/UV photons from Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs), and it will be launched onboard the Lomonosov spacecraft in 2012. The UFFO-p consists of two instruments: the UFFO Burst Alert and Trigger telescope (UBAT) for the detection and location of GRBs, and the Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) for measurement of the UV/optical afterglow. The UBAT isa coded-mask aperture X-ray camera with a wide field of view (FOV) of 1.8 sr. The detector module consists of the YSO(Yttrium Oxyorthosilicate) scintillator crystal array, a grid of 36 multi-anode photomultipliers (MAPMTs), and analog and digital readout electronics. When the γ /X-ray photons hit the YSO scintillator crystal array, it produces UV photons by scintillation in proportion to the energy of the incident γ /X-ray photons. The UBAT detects X-ray source of GRB inthe 5 ~ 100 keV energy range, localizes the GRB within 10 arcmin, and sends the SMT this information as well as drift correction in real time. All the process is controlled by a Field Programmable Gates Arrays (FPGA) to reduce the processing time. We are in the final stages of the development and expect to deliver the instrument for the integration with the spacecraft. In what follows we present the design, fabrication and performance test of the UBAT.
The Slewing Mirror Telescope (SMT) is a key telescope of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) space project to
explore the first sub-minute or sub-seconds early photons from the Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) afterglows. As the
realization of UFFO, 20kg of UFFO-Pathfinder (UFFO-P) is going to be on board the Russian Lomonosov satellite in November 2012 by Soyuz-2 rocket. Once the UFFO Burst Alert & Trigger Telescope (UBAT) detects the GRBs,
Slewing mirror (SM) will slew to bring new GRB into the SMT’s field of view rather than slewing the entire spacecraft. SMT can give a UV/Optical counterpart position rather moderated 4arcsec accuracy. However it will provide a important understanding of the GRB mechanism by measuring the sub-minute optical photons from GRBs. SMT can respond to the trigger over 35 degree x 35 degree wide field of view within 1 sec by using Slewing Mirror Stage (SMS). SMT is the reflecting telescope with 10cm Ritchey-Chretien type and 256 x 256 pixilated Intensified Charge-Coupled Device (ICCD). In this paper, we discuss the overall design of UFFO-P SMT instrument and payloads development status.
Since the launch of the SWIFT, Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) science has been much progressed. Especially supporting
many measurements of GRB events and sharing them with other telescopes by the Gamma-ray Coordinate Network
(GCN) have resulted the richness of GRB events, however, only a few of GRB events have been measured within a
minute after the gamma ray signal. This lack of sub-minute data limits the study for the characteristics of the UV-optical
light curve of the short-hard type GRB and the fast-rising GRB. Therefore, we have developed the telescope named the
Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) Pathfinder, to take the sub-minute data for the early photons from GRB. The
UFFO Pathfinder has a coded-mask X-ray camera to search the GRB location by the UBAT trigger algorithm. To
determine the direction of GRB as soon as possible it requires the fast processing. We have ultimately implemented all
algorithms in field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) without microprocessor. Although FPGA, when compared with
microprocessor, is generally estimated to support the fast processing rather than the complex processing, we have
developed the implementation to overcome the disadvantage and to maximize the advantage. That is to measure the
location as accurate as possible and to determine the location within the sub-second timescale. In the particular case for a
accuracy of the X-ray trigger, it requires special information from the satellite based on the UFFO central control system.
We present the implementation of the UBAT trigger algorithm as well as the readout system of the UFFO Pathfinder.
We describe the space project of Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory (UFFO) which will observe early optical photons from
gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with a sub-second optical response, for the first time. The UFFO will probe the early optical
rise of GRBs, opening a completely new frontier in GRB and transient studies, using a fast response Slewing Mirror
Telescope (SMT) that redirects optical path to telescope instead of slewing of telescopes or spacecraft. In our small
UFFO-Pathfinder experiment, scheduled to launch aboard the Lomonosov satellite in 2012, we use a motorized mirror in
our Slewing Mirror Telescope instrument to achieve less than one second optical response after X-ray trigger. We
describe the science and the mission of the UFFO project, including a next version called UFFO-100. With our program
of ultra-fast optical response GRB observatories, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of GRB mechanisms, and
potentially open up the z<10 universe to study via GRB as point source emission probes.
The UFFO (Ultra-Fast Flash Observatory) Pathfinder is a space instrument onboard the Lomonosov satellite scheduled
to be launched in November 2011. It is designed for extremely fast observation of optical counterparts of Gamma Ray
Bursts (GRBs). It consists of two subsystems; i) UBAT (UFFO Burst Alert & Trigger Telescope) and ii) SMT (Slewing
Mirror Telescope). This study is concerned with SMT opto-mechanical subsystem design and optical performance test.
SMT is a F/11.4 Ritchey-Chretien type telescope benefited from compact design with a short optical tube assembly for
the given focal length of 1,140 mm. SMT is designed to operate over a wide range of wavelength between 200 nm and
650 nm and has 17 arcmin FOV (Field of View), providing 4 arcsec in detector pixel resolution. The main detector is
256 x 256 ICCD (Intensified Charge-Coupled Device) of 22.2μm in pixel size. This SMT design offers good imaging
performance including 0.77 in MTF at Nyquist frequency of 22.52 /mm and 2.7 μm in RMS spot radius. The primary
(M1) and secondary (M2) mirror are hyperbolic surfaces and were manufactured within 1/50 waves (He-Ne, 632.8nm) in
RMS surface error. After completion of the initial integration, the SMT opto-mechanical subsystem reached to the
system wavefront error better than 1/10 waves in room temperature. We then tested the opto-mechanical performances
under thermal cycling and vibration. In this study, we report the SMT subsystem design solution and integration together
with thermal and vibration test results.
The Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT) is a balloon-borne telescope designed to study astrophysical sources of gammaray
emission with high spectral resolution, moderate angular resolution, and novel sensitivity to gamma-ray polarization.
The heart of NCT is a compact array of cross-strip germanium detectors allowing for wide-field imaging with excellent
efficiency from 0.2-10 MeV. Before 2010, NCT had flown successfully on two conventional balloon flights in Fort
Sumner, New Mexico. The third flight was attempted in Spring 2010 from Alice Springs, Australia, but there was a
launch accident that caused major payload damage and prohibited a balloon flight. The same system configuration
enables us to extend our current results to wider phase space with pre-flight calibrations in 2010 campaign. Here we
summarize the design, the performance of instrument, the pre-flight calibrations, and preliminary results we have
obtained so far.
The Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT) is a balloon-borne soft gamma ray (0.2-10 MeV) telescope designed to study
astrophysical sources of nuclear line emission and polarization. The heart of NCT is an array of 12 cross-strip
germanium detectors, designed to provide 3D positions for each photon interaction with full 3D position resolution to <
2 mm^3. Tracking individual interactions enables Compton imaging, effectively reduces background, and enables the
measurement of polarization. The keys to Compton imaging with NCT's detectors are determining the energy deposited
in the detector at each strip and tracking the gamma-ray photon interaction within the detector. The 3D positions are
provided by the orthogonal X and Y strips, and by determining the interaction depth using the charge collection time
difference (CTD) between the anode and cathode. Calibrations of the energy as well as the 3D position of interactions
have been completed, and extensive calibration campaigns for the whole system were also conducted using radioactive
sources prior to our flights from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, USA in Spring 2009, and from Alice Springs, Australia in
Spring 2010. Here we will present the techniques and results of our ground calibrations so far, and then compare the
calibration results of the effective area throughout NCT's field of view with Monte Carlo simulations using a detailed
The Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT) is a balloon-borne soft gamma-ray telescope. Its compact design uses
cross-strip germanium detectors, allowing for wide-field imaging with excellent efficiency from 0.2-10 MeV. Additionally,
the Compton imaging principle employed by NCT provides polarimetric sensitivity to several MeV.
NCT is optimized for the study of astrophysical sources of nuclear line emission. A ten-detector instrument
participated in the 2010 balloon campaign in Alice Springs, Australia, in order to conduct observations of the
Galactic Center Region. Unfortunately, a launch accident caused major damage to the payload, and no flight
was possible. We discuss the design, calibration, and performance of the instrument as well as prospects for its