Micro-X is a rocket-borne X-ray telescope which will use an array of Transition Edge Sensor (TES) microcalorimeters
to obtain high resolution soft X-ray spectra of extended astronomical sources. The microcalorimeter array consists of
128 pixels with a size of 590 μm × 590 μm each. The TESs are read out with a time-division Superconducting Quantum
Interference Device (SQUID) multiplexing system. The instrument's front end assembly, which contains the
microcalorimeter array and two SQUID amplification stages, is located at the focal point of a conically approximated
Wolter mirror with a focal length of 2100 mm and a point spread function of 2.4 arcmin half-power diameter. The
telescope's effective area amounts to ~ 300 cm<sup>2</sup> at 1 keV. The TES array is cooled with an Adiabatic Demagnetization
Refrigerator. The first flight of Micro-X is scheduled for 2011, and will likely target a Si knot in the Puppis A supernova
remnant. The time available for the observation above an altitude of 160 km will be in excess of 300 seconds. The
design, manufacturing and assembly of the flight hardware has recently been completed, and system testing is underway.
We describe the final design of the Micro-X instrument, and report on the overall status of the project.
The Planetary Coral Reef Foundation is proposing to privately fund a Coral Reef Satellite Mission to perform a global mapping survey of shallow water coral reefs and monitor their health over a period of at least 5 years. Using available technology, but restricting the goals of the Mission to the limited objectives of finding and monitoring coral reefs, it is possible to design a coherent and cost effective flight system. We describe the general design of the mission and its components, giving particular emphasis to the science payload.
The primary goal of the Spectroscopy and Photometry of the IGM's Diffuse Radiation (SPIDR) Mission is to detect and map the huge filamentary structures, the "cosmic web", predicted to be present in the IGM. The SPIDR instrument comprises six imaging spectrographs providing 8° x 8° and 2.5° x 2.5° high-resolution spatial maps of IGM features in the OVI and CIV wavelength bands. For simplicity and economy all six spectrographs utilize virtually identical detector systems. Each detector records a two-dimensional image whose axes represent spectral and one-dimensional spatial information, the second spatial axis being obtained by tomographic reconstruction.
We describe the design of the prototype detector built for the SPIDR mission. The detector uses a conventional microchannel plate (MCP) arrangement with a charge division readout anode used in the image charge configuration. The image charge technique provides enhanced resolution, linearity and stability in a more compact mechanical design. The predictable distribution of the induced image charge footprint has allowed us to accurately simulate the readout performance in software. The conservative requirements of the SPIDR spectrograph allow the use of a conventional wedge and strip anode which benefits from the design improvements generated using our software simulation. Redesign of the boundary electrodes has enabled us to improve overall linearity and increase useful imaging area.
We describe the integrated electronics system for the SPIDR prototype, designed for low mass and power consumption. A single printed circuit board is used to house analog signal processing, digital processing, and power systems.