The X-IFU Instrument Preliminary Requirement Review is going to be the main activity at the start of 2019, with its kick-off held on January 18th. It is a joint review between CNES and ESA. The review panel is co-chaired by Christian Erd (ESA) and Patrick Castillan (CNES). The process will last about 3 months with two important dates: the co-location meeting on March 26th and the board meeting on April 11th. The board meeting will also be co-chaired between ESA and CNES. Thien will come back in this issue of the newsletter on the significance of the review. The team will present the outcome of the work done, consortium-wide, over more than 4 years. Immediately after the I-PRR board meeting, the Consortium will meet in Grenoble for the Consortium meeting #9, hosted by CEA-SBT. The Consortium will start on April 15th, last only 4 days, and will be focused on presenting and discussing the issues raised by the IPRR panel, the work plan and actions to be carried out until the Mission Formulation Review currently scheduled after the summer (see article later).
The Instrument Consortia Consolidation (ICC) was successfully completed on December 11th 2018, leading to the formal appointment of the X-IFU Consortium, as currently organized, to be responsible for the delivery of the X-IFU instrument to Athena. For this process to be complete, all ESA member states involved in the X-IFU had to endorse their foreseen contribution to the instrument, at least until adoption (the United States and Japan, as international partners were treated separately). This success was achieved very smoothly thanks to the support and the leadership of the X-IFU Consortium board members.
Early January, I received a letter from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic indicating that funding of the B phase of Athena was granted to study a contribution to the X-IFU remote terminal units. Thanks to Jiri Svoboda and Jan Soucek for getting a proposal together on very short notice and getting it accepted. As a consequence, Jiri Svoboda will join the X-IFU Consortium Board and Jan Soucek was appointed as an X-IFU instrument Co-investigator. One member of the X-IFU Science Advisory Team will have to be nominated.
On the Consortium side, following the completion of the ICC, Seppo Korpela (University of Helsinki, Finland) was appointed as an X-IFU Instrument Co-Investigator with a 2 year term stating on January 1st, 2019. Juhani Huovelin will provide an overview of the Finnish contribution in this issue of the newletter. The term of Massimo Cappi (OAS Bologna, Italy), acting as X-IFU Science Advisory Team Chair, was renewed, acknowledging his excellent work in leading the XSAT activities. We will keep updating the XSAT to introduce new members, to both cover new science topics and introduce fresh ideas and resources. One potential new science topic that has emerged in the last few years is multi-messenger astronomy, including gravitational waves. Luigi Piro will introduce the exercise that is being carried out on looking at synergies between Athena and LISA.
Let me conclude by thanking deeply all those from the X-IFU Consortium who have contributed to the preparation of the IPRR, and in the first place, the CNES team. Let us hope that the IPRR will go smoothly, so that Athena can proceed safely towards adoption.
Looking forward to seeing you in Grenoble.
X-IFU Principal Investigator