The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing the Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) X-ray telescope, an L-class mission in their current Cosmic Vision cycle for long-term planning of space science missions. Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) are a new type of X-ray optics enabling future X-ray observatories such as Athena and are being developed at cosine with ESA as well as academic and industrial partners. These high-performance, modular, lightweight yet stiff, high-resolution X-ray optics shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. As the development of Athena mission progresses, it is necessary to validate the SPO technology under launch conditions. To this end, ruggedisation and environmental testing studies are being conducted to ensure mechanical stability and optical performance of the optics before, during and after launch. At cosine, a facility with shock, vibration, tensile strength, long time storage and thermal testing equipment has been set up to test SPO mirror module components for compliance with the upcoming Ariane launch vehicle and the mission requirements. In this paper, we report on the progress of our ongoing investigations regarding tests on mechanical and thermal stability of mirror module components such as single SPO stacks complete mirror modules of inner (R = 250 mm), middle (R = 737 mm) and outer (R = 1500 mm) radii.
GUSTO will be a NASA balloon borne terahertz observatory to be launched from Antarctica in late 2021 for a flight duration of 100-170 days. It aims at reviewing the life cycle of interstellar medium of our galaxy by simultaneously mapping the three brightest interstellar cooling lines: [OI] at 4.7 THz, [CII] at 1.9 THz, and [NII] at 1.4 THz; along the 124 degrees of the galactic plane and through a part of the Large Magellanic Cloud. It will use three arrays of 4x2 mixers based on NbN hot electron bolometers (HEBs), which are currently the most sensitive mixers for high resolution spectroscopic astronomy at these frequencies.
Here we report on the design of a novel 4.7 THz receiver for GUSTO. The receiver consists mainly of two subsystems: a 4×2 HEB quasi-optical mixer array and a 4.7 THz multi-beam LO. We describe the mixer array, which is designed as a compact monolithic unit. We show, for example, 10 potential HEB detectors with the state of the art sensitivity of 720 K measured at 2.5 THz. They have a small variation in sensitivity, being less than 3%, while also meet the LO uniformity requirements. For the multi-beam LO we demonstrate the combination of a phase grating and a single QCL at 4.7 THz, which generates 8 sub-LO beams, where the phase grating shows an efficiency of 75%. A preliminary concept for the integrated LO unit, including QCL, phase grating and beam matching optics is presented.