The 9th consortium meeting was held in Grenoble from April 15th to 18th, hosted by CEA-SBT, under the leadership of Lionel Duband. As it could have been anticipated, the meeting was extremely well organized up to the social dinner, which provided the attendees with the greatest possible views of Grenoble and its surroundings by night. Thank you Lionel for leading the effort on behalf of the host institution.
The meeting was focused on presenting broadly the outcome of the IPRR, emphasizing on the actions to be carried out in the next few months. The meeting started on Monday with XSAT, XCAT, and IPRR action splinter meetings. It is worth noting that during the XSAT, several simulations of X-IFU related science cases were presented, highlighting the unique capabilities of the instrument. The XSAT will now be moved to science-oriented activities, aiming at developing and promoting the X-IFU science.
The plenary sessions covered from Tuesday to Wednesday. Alex Stefanescu from the ESA study team presented the plan of the upcoming activities. I cannot resist to quote Alex from his presentation, extracting a couple of statements from the minutes of the IPRR board meeting: “The Board agrees to close the review, all objectives are achieved with actions, and a feasible baseline for X-IFU has been achieved; this is a big step forward. The Board expressed thanks for the work that has been done thus far. It should be remembered that the system is very complex and ambitious, but ATHENA is L-class so this is to be expected. CNES is fully committed to the success of this mission, particular in their provision of X-IFU.” I couldn’t agree more to say that Athena wouldn’t fly without an ambitious X-IFU, and that is why I am so glad that we presented the X-IFU to the IPRR panel, with its original performance requirements met, including the spectral resolution, the field of view, the count rate capability…
The whole Consortium meeting plenary sessions were then devoted to go through the various constituents of the instrument, its subsystems, emphasizing on the issues raised by the IPRR. Thien will come back to these in this issue of the newletter.
Graziella Branduardi-Raymont gave a science talk, demonstrating that not only X-IFU is capable at looking at the most distant objects in the Universe, but will also deliver breakthrough science on our neighbors in the solar system (e.g. to probe global magnetospheric and auroral dynamics, the interaction between planets and the Solar win, planet atmospheres, planet and satellite surface compositions). Similarly, Paul Callanan, gave an overview presentation of the work done so far by the three Irish PhD students (S. Bouanane, S. McKeague, S. Walsh), funded by PRODEX at the University College Cork, University College Dublin and Dublin City University who are working on X-IFU science simulations. Gabriele Betancourt-Martinez in her presentation demonstrated how much improved theoretical calculations, laboratory measurements and atomic database improvements will be required to fully exploit the X-IFU high spectral resolution X-ray data. Gabriele is participating to a worldwide effort to join forces to prepare, first for XRISM Resolve, and later for the X-IFU. Together with the calibration of the instrument, this is indeed a key to the success of the X-IFU.
Finally, one of the highlights of the meeting was certainly the release to the X-IFU consortium of the first version of a short movie introducing the X-IFU (see article by Morgane Hébert who coordinated the production of the movie). The movie was very well received, being perceived as something that is very much needed for accessing to broader audience.
Additional splinters took place on Thursday (system team, X-ISC management team). In the Consortium board meeting, the status of the activities was reviewed for each country. Noticeably, it was the first Consortium Board meeting attended by Jiri Svoboda for Czech Republic. Welcome Jiri ! Two actions arose from the meeting: one was to get an X-IFU lead funding agency meeting organized to make our funding authorities aware of the need to fund several key and expensive activities before the adoption of Athena. The second action, unanimously endorsed by the XCOB, was to look at an alternative “potentially a game changer” design for the cryogenic chain architecture based on a multi-stage ADR. This action will be carried by a joint NASA and JAXA team, with technical inputs provided by the CNES/CEA-SBT team. Letting on the side the programmatic aspect, the outcome of this action will be a technical input to the cryogenic chain working group, that is being set-up following the IPRR.
As a final word, CM#9 will also be remembered as the final Consortium Meeting with Thien Lam Trong, acting in the capacity of the CNES X-IFU Project Manager. Thien has been key in the success of the IPRR, and on behalf of the X-IFU, I would like to express my most profound gratitude for all the work that he led to bring us to success, without any impact on the science performance of the instrument. Thank you Thien, and good luck for the rest of your career at CNES.
X-IFU Principal Investigator