X-ray lobster optics provide a unique way to focus X-rays onto a small focal plane imager with wide field of view imaging. Such an instrument with angular resolution of a few arcminutes can be used to study GRB afterglows, as well as the variability and spectroscopic characteristics for other astrophysical objects. At Penn state University, we characterize these lobster optics with an H1RG CMOS sensor (100 μm thick Silicon with 18 μm pixel size), procured from Teledyne Imaging Sensors at its focal plane. The light-weight compact lobster optic with a 25 cm focal length provides two dimensional imaging with ~25 cm^2 effective area at 2 keV. We chose the hybrid CMOS detector (HCD) since X-ray HCDs offer several advantages (e.g. radiation hard, low power, faster and flexible readout rate) over CCDs for future X-ray missions. We utilize 47 m long X-ray beam line at Penn state University to do our experiments where we characterize the overall effective area of the instrument at 1.5 - 8 keV for both on-axis and off-axis angles. In this presentation, we will describe the characterization test stand and methods, as well as the detailed results. We perform ray-tracing simulations to theoretically validate the results which would also be briefly discussed here. While this is simply a proof-of-concept experiment, such an instrument with significant collecting area can be explored for future rocket or CubeSat experiments.
The Penn State X-ray detector lab, in collaboration with Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS), have progressed their efforts to improve soft X-ray Hybrid CMOS detector (HCD) technology on multiple fronts. Having newly acquired a Teledyne cryogenic SIDECARTM ASIC for use with HxRG devices, measurements were performed with an H2RG HCD and the cooled SIDECARTM. We report new energy resolution and read noise measurements, which show a significant improvement over room temperature SIDECARTM operation. Further, in order to meet the demands of future high-throughput and high spatial resolution X-ray observatories, detectors with fast readout and small pixel sizes are being developed. We report on characteristics of new X-ray HCDs with 12.5 micron pitch that include in-pixel CDS circuitry and crosstalk-eliminating CTIA amplifiers. In addition, PSU and TIS are developing a new large-scale array Speedster-EXD device. The original 64 × 64 pixel Speedster-EXD prototype used comparators in each pixel to enable event driven readout with order of magnitude higher effective readout rates, which will now be implemented in a 550 × 550 pixel device. Finally, the detector lab is involved in a sounding rocket mission that is slated to fly in 2018 with an off-plane reflection grating array and an H2RG X-ray HCD. We report on the planned detector configuration for this mission, which will increase the NASA technology readiness level of X-ray HCDs to TRL 9.
The Water Recovery X-ray Rocket (WRXR) is a sounding rocket payload that will launch from the Kwajalein Atoll in April 2018 and seeks to be the first astrophysics sounding rocket payload to be water recovered by NASA. WRXR's primary instrument is a grating spectrometer that consists of a mechanical collimator, X-ray reflection gratings, grazing-incidence mirrors, and a hybrid CMOS detector. The instrument will obtain a spectrum of the diffuse soft X-ray emission from the northern part of the Vela supernova remnant and is optimized for 3rd and 4th order OVII emission. Utilizing a field of view of 3.25° × 3.25° and resolving power of λ/δλ ≈40-50 in the lines of interest, the WRXR spectrometer aims to achieve the most highly-resolved spectrum of Vela's diffuse soft X-ray emission. This paper presents introductions to the payload and the science target.