This paper presents the concept of a community-accessible stratospheric balloon-based observatory that is currently under preparation by a consortium of European research institutes and industry.
The planned European Stratospheric Balloon Observatory (ESBO) aims at complementing the current landscape of scientific ballooning activities by providing a service-centered infrastructure tailored towards broad astronomical use. In particular, the concept focuses on reusable platforms with exchangeable instruments and telescopes performing regular flights and an operations concept that provides researchers with options to test and operate own instruments, but later on also a proposal-based access to observations. It thereby aims at providing a complement to ground-, space-based, and airborne observatories in terms of access to wavelength regimes – particularly the ultraviolet (UV) and far infrared (FIR) regimes –, spatial resolution capability, and photometric stability. Within the currently ongoing ESBO Design Study (ESBO DS), financed within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme, a prototype platform carrying a 0.5-m telescope for UV and visible light observations is being built and concepts for larger following platforms, leading up to a next-generation FIR telescope are being studied. A flight of the UV/visible prototype platform is currently foreseen for 2021.
We present the technical motivation, science case, instrumentation, and a two-stage image stabilization approach of the 0.5-m UV/visible platform. In addition, we briefly describe the novel mid-sized stabilized balloon gondola under design to carry telescopes in the 0.5 to 0.6 m range as well as the currently considered flight option for this platform.
Secondly, we outline the scientific and technical motivation for a large balloon-based FIR telescope and the ESBO DS approach towards such an infrastructure.
The World Space Observatory Ultraviolet (WSO/UV) is a multi-national project lead by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) with the objective of high performance observations in the ultraviolet range. The 1.7 m WSO/UV telescope feeds UV spectrometers and UV imagers. The UV spectrometers comprise two high resolution Echelle spectrographs for the 100 − 170 nm and 170 − 300 nm wavelength range and a long slit spectrograph for the 100 − 300 nm band. All three spectrometers represent individual instruments that are assembled and aligned separately. In order to save mass while maintaining high stiffness, the instruments are combined to a monoblock. Cesic has been selected to reduce CTE related distortions of the instruments.
In contrast to aluminium, the stable structure of Cesic is significantly less sensitive to thermal gradients. No further mechanism for focus correction with high functional, technical and operational complexity and dedicated System costs are necessary. Using Cesic also relaxes the thermal control requirements of ±5°C, which represents a considerable cost driver for the S/C design.
The WUVS instrument is currently studied in the context of a phase B2 study by Kayser-Threde GmbH including a Structural Thermal Model (STM) for verification of thermal and mechanical loads, stability due to thermal distortions and Cesic manufacturing feasibility.
Astronomical observations in the ultraviolet (UV) wavelength range between 91 and 300nm are fundamental for the progress in astrophysics. Scientific success of future UV observatories raises the need for technology development in the areas of detectors, optical components, and their coatings. We develop solar blind and photon counting microchannel plate (MCP) UV detectors as a contribution to the progress in UV observation technology. New combinations of materials for the photocathode (see paper No. 9144-111, this volume, for details) as well as a cross-strip (XS) anode, having 64 strips on each layer, are used. Pre-amplification of the charge deposited onto the anode is performed by the Beetle chip designed at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg for LHCb at CERN. It features 128 pre-amplifiers on one die and provides the analogue output in a four-fold serial stream. This stream is digitised by only four ADCs and is processed in an FPGA. This concept results in a reduced power consumption well below 10W as well as a reduced volume, weight and complexity of the readout electronics compared to existing cross-strip readouts. We developed an electronics prototype assembly and a setup in a vacuum chamber that is similar to the configuration in the final detector. The setup in the chamber is used for the burn-in of the MCPs as well as for tests of the readout electronics prototype assembly incorporating realistic signals. In this paper, information on the XS anodes as well as on the hybrid PCB carrying the Beetle pre-amplifier chip is shown. Details on the readout electronics design as well as details of the setup in the vacuum chamber are presented. An outlook to the next steps in the development process is given.
Observations of ultraviolet light is the key to understand high temperature processes in the universe like hot plasma, accretion processes or illuminated protoplanetary discs around UV sources. Furthermore these observation contribute to major cosmological questions, like the distribution of baryonic matter or the formation of the milky way, as pointed out by Gomez de Castro et al.1 Driven by the idea to participate in the Russian World Space Observatory we started to develop a position sensitive micro channel plate detector (MCP) for spectroscopy in the range of 160nm to 300 nm. Although we are not part of this project we still build a MCP detector prototype. In this paper we will present the general design of the detector and mainly focus on the aspect of our photocathode, while the electronics will be explained in more detail in the paper Characterisation of low power readout electronics for a UV microchannel plate detector with cross-strip readout" (Paper number 9144-116) by Marc Pfeifer.
The spectrographs of WSO-UV cover the wavelength range of 102 - 310 nm. The essential requirements for the
associated detectors are high quantum effciency, solar blindness, and single photon detection. To achieve this,
we develop a microchannel plate detector in a sealed tube. We plan to use cesium activated gallium nitride
as semitransparent photocathode, a stack of two microchannel plates and a cross strip anode with advanced
readout electronics. Challenges are the degradation of the photocathode under atmospheric conditions and the
sealing process. We present the detector concept, details of the transfer and sealing processes under UHV, and
the current status.
The World Space Observatory - Ultraviolet (WSO-UV) will be the only space telescope for the ultraviolet
wavelength range between 102 and 310 nm during the next decade. It is a multinational project under Russian
leadership with contributions from Ukraine and Spain. Its main instrument, the WSO-UV Spectrographs
(WUVS), was designed by IAAT in collaboration with the Leibniz Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften, Berlin.
We are developing the corresponding microchannel plate detectors using new combinations of materials for the
photocathode as well as a 64 by 64 cross strip anode for event position determination. Charge pre-amplification
is performed by the Beetle chip designed at the ASIC laboratory of the MPIK for LHCb at CERN. It has 128
pre-amplifiers on one die and provides the analog output in a four-fold serial stream. This stream is digitized
by four ADCs and processed in a Microsemi RTAX FPGA. Processed data are sent to the instrument control
unit via a SpaceWire interface. This concept results in one order of magnitude reduced power consumption in
comparison to the use of conventional pre-amplifiers as well as a reduced volume, weight and complexity of the
readout electronics. This paper presents the architecture of the electronics and details of the FPGA design as
well as an estimation of the performance of our setup.
The World Space Observatory Ultraviolet (WSO-UV) is a multinational mission under the leadership of Russia with contributions of Spain and Germany. The mission is part of the Spektrum series and launch is currently scheduled for 2016. It consists of a 1.7m mirror focusing on spectrographs in the range of 102-310 nm withh a resolution of R ≥ 55,000 for high resolution spectral observations, a long-slit-spectrograph for spatially resolved observations and an imager. According to the Phase-B-Study all spectrographs will use the same detectors built by the IAAT. These spectrographs are designed to observe cosmic plasma with temperatures of several ten thousands Kelvin and atomic transition lines of all important atoms and molecuules like H2, CO, OH eetc. In knowledge about the formation of galaxies and analyze the atmospheres of extrasolar planets and protoplanetary discs. To achieve these goals the IAAT designed in cooperation with the Leibniz-Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS Berlin) the spectrographs. In addition Tubingen develops and builds a new type of michrchannel plate detector based on gallim nitride cathods and a cross-strip-anode.
The World Space Observatory Ultraviolet (WSO/UV) is a multi-national project grown out of the needs of the astronomical community to have future access to the ultraviolet range of the spectrum. The development of the WSO/UV S/C and the telescope is headed by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The mission is scheduled to be launched in 2010 into the L2 orbit. The WSO/UV consists of a single Ultraviolet Telescope, incorporating a primary mirror of 1.7 m diameter feeding UV spectrometer and UV imagers. The UV spectrometer comprises three different single spectrographs, two high resolution echelle spectrographs - the High Resolution Double Echelle Spectrograph (HIRDES) - and a low dispersion long slit instrument. Within the HIRDES the spectral band (102 - 310 nm) is separated into two echelle spectrographs covering the UV range between 174- and 310 nm (UVES) and VacuumUV range between 102 and 176 nm (VUVES) with a very high spectral resolution of > 50000. Each spectrograph encompass a stand alone optical bench structure with a fully redundant high speed MCP detector system, the optomechanics and a network of mechanisms with different functionalities. The fundamental technical concept is based on the heritage of the two previous ORFEUS SPAS missions. The phase B1 development activities are described in this paper under consideration of performance aspects, design drivers, the related trade offs (e.g. mechanical concepts, material selection etc.) and the critical functional and environmental test verification approach. Furthermore the actual state of the other scientific instruments of the WSO/UV (e.g. UV imagers) project is described.
The World Space Observatory is an unconventional space project proceeding via distributed studies. The present design, verified for feasibility, consists of a 1.7-meter telescope operating at the second Largangian point of the Earth-Sun system. The focal plane instruments consist of three UV spectrometers covering the spectral band from Lyman alpha to the atmospheric cutoff with R~55,000 and offering long-slit capability over the same band with R~1,000. In addition, a number of UV and optical imagers view adjacent fields to that sampled by the spectrometers. Their performance compares well with that of HST/ACS and the spectral capabilities of WSO rival those of HST/COS.
The WSO, as presently conceived, will be constructed and operated with the same distributed philosophy. This will allow as many groups and countries to participate, each contributing as much as feasible but allowing multi-national participation. Although designed originally with a conservative approach, the WSO embodies some innovative ideas and will allow a world-class mission to be realized with a moderate budget.
The Spectrum-UV mission, a general purpose ultraviolet observatory endowed with a 170-cm aperture telescope for imaging and spectroscopy in the 912 to 3600 angstroms range, will be launched in a seven days, high elliptical orbit in the late '90s by a Proton booster. The advanced feasibility study, carried on by an international study team from the participating Countries (Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia and Ukraine) is close to completion. The focal plane instrument complement for spectroscopy are described, and in particular the high resolution Echelle spectrograph and the Rowland one.