The European Space Agency (ESA) is studying the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) X-ray telescope, the second L-class mission in their Cosmic Vision 2015 – 2025 program with a launch spot in 2028. The baseline technology for the X-ray lens is the newly developed high-performance, light-weight and modular Silicon Pore Optics (SPO). As part of the technology preparation, ruggedisation and environmental testing studies are being conducted to ensure mechanical stability and optical performance of the optics during and after launch, respectively. At cosine, a facility with shock, vibration, tensile strength, long time storage and thermal testing equipment has been set up in order to test SPO mirror module (MM) materials for compliance with an 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 MM components like single SPO stacks with and without multilayer coatings and complete MMs of inner (R = 250 mm), middle (R = 737 mm) and outer (R = 1500 mm) radii.
The ATHENA X-ray observatory is a large-class ESA approved mission, with launch scheduled in 2028. The technology of silicon pore optics (SPO) was selected as baseline to assemble ATHENA’s optic with hundreds of mirror modules, obtained by stacking wedged and ribbed silicon wafer plates onto silicon mandrels to form the Wolter-I configuration. In the current configuration, the optical assembly has a 3 m diameter and a 2 m2 effective area at 1 keV, with a required angular resolution of 5 arcsec. The angular resolution that can be achieved is chiefly the combination of 1) the focal spot size determined by the pore diffraction, 2) the focus degradation caused by surface and profile errors, 3) the aberrations introduced by the misalignments between primary and secondary segments, 4) imperfections in the co-focality of the mirror modules in the optical assembly. A detailed simulation of these aspects is required in order to assess the fabrication and alignment tolerances; moreover, the achievable effective area and angular resolution depend on the mirror module design. Therefore, guaranteeing these optical performances requires: a fast design tool to find the most performing solution in terms of mirror module geometry and population, and an accurate point spread function simulation from local metrology and positioning information. In this paper, we present the results of simulations in the framework of ESA-financed projects (SIMPOSiuM, ASPHEA, SPIRIT), in preparation of the ATHENA X-ray telescope, analyzing the mentioned points: 1) we deal with a detailed description of diffractive effects in an SPO mirror module, 2) we show ray-tracing results including surface and profile defects of the reflective surfaces, 3) we assess the effective area and angular resolution degradation caused by alignment errors between SPO mirror module’s segments, and 4) we simulate the effects of co-focality errors in X-rays and in the UV optical bench used to study the mirror module alignment and integration.
The work on the definition and technological preparation of the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) mission continues to progress. In parallel to the study of the accommodation of the telescope, many aspects of the X-ray optics are being evolved further. The optics technology chosen for ATHENA is the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), which hinges on technology spin-in from the semiconductor industry, and uses a modular approach to produce large effective area lightweight telescope optics with a good angular resolution. Both system studies and the technology developments are guided by ESA and implemented in industry, with participation of institutional partners. In this paper an overview of the current status of the telescope optics accommodation and technology development activities is provided.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and several academic and industrial partners, provides lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics. This technology enables ATHENA to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area in the 0.2 - 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5''. After developing the technology for 50 m and 20 m focal length, this year has witnessed the first 12 m focal length mirror modules being produced. The technology development is also gaining momentum with three different radii under study: mirror modules for the inner radii (Rmin = 250 mm), outer radii (Rmax = 1500 mm) and middle radii (Rmid = 737 mm) are being developed in parallel.
ATHENA is currently in Phase A, with a view to adoption upon a successful Mission Adoption Review in 2019/2020. After a brief presentation of the reference spacecraft (SC) design, this paper will focus on the functional and environmental requirements, the thermo-mechanical design and the Assembly, Integration, Verification & Test (AIVT) considerations related to housing the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) Mirror Modules (MM) in the very large Mirror Assembly Module (MAM).
Initially functional requirements on the MM accommodation are presented, with the Effective Area and Half Energy Width (HEW) requirements leading to a MAM comprising (depending on final mirror size selected) between ~700-1000 MMs, co-aligned with exquisite accuracy to provide a common focus. A preliminary HEW budget allocated across the main error-contributors is presented, and this is then used as a reference to derive subsequent requirements and engineering considerations, including: The procedures and technologies for MM-integration into the Mirror Structure (MS) to achieve the required alignment accuracies in a timely manner; stiffness requirements and handling scheme required to constrain deformation under gravity during x-ray testing; temperature control to constrain thermo-elastic deformation during flight; and the role of the Instrument Switching Mechanism (ISM) in constraining HEW and Effective Area errors.
Next, we present the key environmental requirements of the MMs, and the need to minimise shock-loading of the MMs is stressed. Methods to achieve this Ø are presented, including: Selection of a large clamp-band launch vehicle interface (LV I/F); lengthening of the shock-path from the LV I/F to the MAM I/F; modal-tuning of the MAM to act as a low-pass filter during launch shock events; use of low-shock HDRMs for the MAM; and the possibility to deploy a passive vibration solution at the LV I/F to reduce loads.
ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) is being studied by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the second large science mission, with a launch slot in 2028. System studies and technology preparation activities are on-going. The optics of the telescope is based on the modular Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), a novel X-ray optics technology significantly benefiting from spin-in from the semiconductor industry. Several technology development activities are being implemented by ESA in collaboration with European industry and institutions. The related programmatic background, technology development approach and the associated implementation planning are presented.
The Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (Athena) was selected in 2014 as the second large class mission (L2) of the ESA Cosmic Vision Science Programme within the Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration. The mission development is proceeding via the implementation of the system studies and in parallel a comprehensive series of technology preparation activities. [1-3]. The core enabling technology for the high performance mirror is the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), a modular X-ray optics technology, which utilises processes and equipment developed for the semiconductor industry [4-31]. This paper provides an overview of the programmatic background, the status of SPO technology and give an outline of the development roadmap and activities undertaken and planned by ESA.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) are the enabling technology for ESA’s second large class mission in the Cosmic Vision programme. As for every space hardware, a critical qualification process is required to verify the suitability of the SPO mirror modules surviving the launch loads and maintaining their performance in the space environment. We present recent design modifications to further strengthen the mounting system (brackets and dowel pins) against mechanical loads. The progress of a formal qualification test campaign with the new mirror module design is shown. We discuss mechanical and thermal limitations of the SPO technology and provide recommendations for the mission design of the next X-ray Space Observatory.
With the selection of “The hot and energetic Universe” as science theme for ESA's second large class mission (L2) in the Cosmic Vision programme, work is focusing on the technology preparation for an advanced X-ray observatory. The core enabling technology for the high performance mirror is the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) [1 to 23], a modular X-ray optics technology, which utilises processes and equipment developed for the semiconductor industry. The paper provides an overview of the programmatic background, the status of SPO technology and gives an outline of the development roadmap and activities undertaken and planned by ESA on optics, coatings [24 to 30] and test facilities [31, 33].
Future high energy astrophysics missions will require high performance novel X-ray optics to explore the Universe beyond the limits of the currently operating Chandra and Newton observatories. Innovative optics technologies are therefore being developed and matured by the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with research institutions and industry, enabling leading-edge future science missions.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) [1 to 21] and Slumped Glass Optics (SGO) [22 to 29] are lightweight high performance X-ray optics technologies being developed in Europe, driven by applications in observatory class high energy astrophysics missions, aiming at angular resolutions of 5” and providing effective areas of one or more square meters at a few keV.
This paper reports on the development activities led by ESA, and the status of the SPO and SGO technologies, including progress on high performance multilayer reflective coatings [30 to 35]. In addition, the progress with the X-ray test facilities and associated beam-lines is discussed .
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) provide a high angular resolution with a low areal density as required for future X-ray telescopes for high energy astrophysics. We present progress in two areas of ESA’s SPO development activities: Stray light baffling and environmental qualification.
Residual stray light originating from off-axis sources or the sky background can be blocked by placing suitable baffles in front of the mirror modules. We developed two different mechanical implementations. The first uses longer, tapered mirror plates which improve the stray light rejection without the need of mounting additional parts to the modules or the telescope. The second method is based on placing a sieve plate in front of the optics. We compare both methods in terms of baffling performance using ray-tracing simulations and present test results of prototype mirror modules.
Any optics for space telescopes needs to be compliant with the harsh conditions of the launch and in-orbit operation. We present new work in improving the mechanical and thermal ruggedness of SPO mirror modules and show recent results of qualification level tests, including tests of modules with externally mounted sieve plate baffles.
ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics) was an L class mission candidate within the science
programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 of the European Space Agency, with a planned launch by 2022. ATHENA was conceived as an ESA-led project, open to the possibility of focused contributions from JAXA and NASA. By allowing astrophysical observations between 100 eV and 10 keV, it would represent the new generation X-ray observatory, following the XMM-Newton, Astro-H and Chandra heritage. The main scientific objectives of ATHENA include the study of large scale structures, the evolution of black holes, strong gravity effects, neutron star structure as well as investigations into dark matter. The ATHENA mission concept would be based on focal length of 12m achieved via a rigid metering tube and a twoaperture, x-ray telescope. Two identical x-ray mirrors would illuminate fixed focal plane instruments: a cryogenic imaging spectrometer (XMS) and a wide field imager (WFI). The S/C is designed to be fully compatible with Ariane 5 ECA. The observatory would operate at SE-L2, with a nominal lifetime of 5 yr. This paper provides a summary of the reformulation activities, completed in December 2011. An overview of the spacecraft design and of the payload is provided, including both telescope and instruments. Following the ESA Science Programme Committee decision on the L1 mission in May 2012, ATHENA was not selected to enter Definition Phase.
In this paper the opto-mechanical modeling of the Herschel infrared space telescope at ESA/ESTEC is presented. The aim of the paper is to give an overview of all modeling activities that took place between 2006 and 2010. In 2006 ESA commissioned a Tiger Team to review the discrepancy between the prediction and measurement of the change in telescope back focal length of the Herschel infrared space telescope. The understanding of the discrepancy was essential since the telescope did not have a refocusing mechanism and hence had to be shimmed to the focus position at cryogenic operational temperature. A team of 16 engineers and scientists collocated at ESA/ESTEC to review the finite element models, optical models and test data used for the prediction of the telescope back focal length. The methodology of prediction, the uncertainties and the obtained results were critically assessed. The team used various modeling techniques including paraxial optical models, first order linear thermal expansion models, full system and metrology ray tracing, deterministic and stochastic thermo-elastic finite element analyses. The opto-mechanical analysis techniques, assumptions and results are discussed. In addition the impact of new measurements of coefficients of thermal expansion, performed after shimming of the telescope flight model, are addressed.
The paper provides a summary of the results of the assessment study conducted on the SPICA Telescope Assembly
(STA). SPICA (SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics) was selected for study as a mission of
opportunity within the science programme Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 of the European Space Agency, with a planned
launch in 2017. Observing in the 5 - 210 micron waveband, one of its major goals is the discovery of the origins of
planets and galaxies. ESA's main contribution is the provision of the SPICA Telescope Assembly (STA) featuring a 3.5
m primary mirror cooled to < 6K. A nationally funded European FIR instrument (SAFARI) would also be part of
SPICA's payload. Following an internal ESA study carried out in Q1 and Q2 2008, a parallel competitive industrial
study (phase A level) has been performed. The main results achieved during this study are summarised.
ESA commissioned a Tiger Team to review the discrepancy between the prediction and measurement of the telescope
back focal length. A team of 16 engineers and scientists collocated at ESA's Estec facility to review the finite element
models, optical models, and supporting data to validate the methodology of prediction and verify the results. The team
used several modeling techniques including: paraxial models, first order thermal expansion models, full system and
metrology raytracing, deterministic and stochastic finite element models. The techniques, assumptions, and results will