|Mission type||Space observatory|
|Operator||European Space Agency|
|Mission duration||5 years|
|Launch mass||5,525 kilograms (12,181 lb)|
|BOL mass||5,353 kilograms (11,801 lb)|
|Dry mass||5,038 kilograms (11,107 lb)|
|Power||5.556 kilowatts (5,556 W)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||Q4 2028|
|Reference system||L2 point|
|X-ray Integral Field Unit, Wide Field Imager|
The Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (ATHENA) is a planned X-ray telescope. It is the second (L2) large class mission within ESA Cosmic Vision Program. ATHENA will be a hundred times more sensitive than the best of existing X-ray telescopes - Chandra X-ray Observatory, and XMM-Newton.
Previously, telescope was a candidate for the first (L1) L-class Cosmic Vision mission, but lost to the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer. ATHENA came about from an ESA reboot of the International X-ray Observatory project planned by ESA, JAXA and NASA from about 2008 to 2011. A changing set of conditions lead to changes, in part because a NASA withdrawal from IXO. IXO had itself resulted from a 2008 proposal merger, including ESA's XEUS. The mission was selected as a second large mission of the Cosmic Vision programme.
Development and mission
ATHENA selected science topic is "Hot and Energetic Universe" with an objective of answering to questions from astrophysics: How does ordinary matter assemble into the large-scale structures we see today? And how do black holes grow and shape the Universe?
Ariane 5 will lift ATHENA into a large amplitude Halo orbit around L2 point through a direct transfer burn. L2 was selected due to its stable thermal environment, good sky visibility and high observing efficiency. Each year ATHENA is planned to perform continuous observations of up to 300 celestial point targets, each lasting from half an hour up to over 11 days.
Optics and instruments
ATHENA will utilize telescope with 12m focal length and two primary instruments: high resolution X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) and a moderate resolution, but large field of view Wide Field Imager (WFI).
Telescope will use ESA-developed silicon pore optics providing combination of large field of view and high angular resolution. Each pore is a Wolter Type-I telescope only few mm2 in diameter, with two reflections inside of each pore bringing X-ray in focus. In total 1.5 million pores will be used. Telescope will be manufactured in 60mm wide arrays using commercially available silicon wafers.
X-ray Integral Field Unit
Wide Field Imager
WFI is an X-ray spectrometer utilizing five arrays of p-channel field-effect transistors with a detection range of 0.1-15 keV. Central chip has a resolution of 256x256px and a field of view 7.5 arcminutes. Four outter arrays have a resolution of 448x640px and a field of view 40 arcminutes.:1,9
Construction and engineering
Science team was appointed on 16 July 2014. Initial vibration testing of a silicon pore optics mirror module took place in August 2014. ESA Science Programme Committee will meet in 2019 for a full and final approval of the project before construction will begin in the same year.
- "ESA's new vision to study the invisible universe". ESA. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- Jonathan Amos (2 May 2012). "ESA selects 1bn-euro Juice probe to Jupiter".
- Jonathan Amos (27 June 2014). "Athena: Europe plans huge X-ray space telescope". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "About ATHENA".
- "ESA Science & Technology: Athena to study the hot and energetic Universe".
- "ESA Science & Technology: ATHENA".
- "The X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU)". ATHENA website. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- "The Wide Field Imager (WFI)". ATHENA website. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- A. Rau (19 October 2014). "The Wide Field Imager (WFI) for Athena+" (DOCX). Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- "ESA appointed Science Study Team". ATHENA website. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- "Vibration testing of silicon pore optics module". ESA. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- Jacob Aron (30 June 2014). "Biggest X-ray eye in space to hunt hot cosmic objects". New Scientist. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- The ATHENA+ x-ray observatory - official website (alternative link)
- ATHENA on ESA Cosmic Vision website
- ATHENA on ESA Cosmos website
- ATHENA video on YouTube
- Image of silicone pore optics mirror