tech track papers
Categories: 2018, Observation Tools Black Holes and Weather
Scientist and astronomer’s worldwide have a great interest in exploring the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars. However, one cannot directly image what’s going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects. The goal of the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is to expand understanding of high-energy astrophysical processes and sources, in support of NASA’s first science objective in Astrophysics: “Discover how the universe works.” Polarization uniquely probes physical anisotropies—ordered magnetic fields, aspheric matter distributions, or general relativistic coupling to black-hole spin—that are not otherwise measurable. X-ray polarimetry is the focus of the IXPE science mission. The IXPE Observatory consists of Spacecraft and Payload modules built up in parallel to form the Observatory during system integration and test. The Payload includes three polarization-sensitive, X-ray detector arrays, each paired with its corresponding grazing angle incidence mirror module assemblies (MMA). A deployable boom provides the correct separation (focal length) between the detector units (DU) and MMAs. These Payload elements are supported by the IXPE Spacecraft which is derived from the BCP-100 small Spacecraft architecture. A star tracker is a key element of the attitude determination and control system. It is mounted directly with the Payload to minimize alignment errors between the spacecraft and payload. This paper summarizes the IXPE mission science objectives and describes the Observatory implementation concept including the payload and spacecraft elements.
Author: William DeiningerTopic: Observation Tools, Black Holes and Weather