The Micro-X High Resolution Microcalorimeter X-ray Imaging Rocket is sounding rocket experiment that will combine a transition-edge-sensor X-ray-microcalorimeter array with a conical imaging mirror to obtain high-spectral-resolution images of extended and point X-ray sources. Our first target is the Puppis A supernova remnant, which will be observed in January 2011. The Micro-X observation of the bright eastern knot of Puppis A will obtain a line-dominated spectrum with up to 90,000 counts collected in 300 seconds at 2 eV resolution across the 0.3-2.5 keV band. Micro-X will utilize plasma diagnostics to determine the thermodynamic and ionization state of the plasma, to search for line shifts and broadening associated with dynamical processes, and seek evidence of ejecta enhancement. We describe the progress made in developing this payload, including the detector, cryogenics, and electronics assemblies. A detailed modeling effort has been undertaken to design a rocket-bourne adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator with sufficient magnetic shielding to allow stable operation of transition edge sensors, and the associated rocket electronics have been prototyped and tested.
Superconducting Transition-Edge Sensors (TESs) are generating a great deal of interest in the areas of x-ray astrophysics and space science, particularly to develop them as large-array, imaging x-ray spectrometers. We are developing a novel concept that is based on position-sensitive macro-pixels placing TESs on the backside of a silicon or germanium absorber. Each x-ray absorbed will be position (X/δX and Y/δY ~ 100) and energy (E/δE ~ 1000) resolved via four distributed TES readouts. In the future, combining such macropixels with advances in multiplexing could lead to 30 by 30 arrays of close-packed macro-pixels equivalent to imaging instruments of 10 megapixels or more. We report on our progress to date and discuss its application to a plausible solar satellite mission and plans for future development.
In this paper we present preliminary work on a spatial, arrival time and energy resolving x-ray detector for the study of magnetic reconnection in the solar corona. Our detectors are cryogenic phonon-mediated superconducting Transition-Edge Sensors (TESs). X-rays are incident on a silicon substrate; the generated phonons propagate to the opposite side of the substrate and are absorbed in the tungsten TES electron system. Through a novel spatial distribution of four TESs we aim to achieve simultaneous measurement resolutions of ~10 μm, sub μs, and ~4 eV and with count rates of ~1 kHz. This four TES system is described and preliminary data obtained with a prototype two-channel detector is presented.