Another round about the Sun

Message to X-IFU Consortium members: 2016 is coming to an end and looking back a lot has been accomplished by the X-IFU Consortium on all fronts. Implementing the Mission Consolidation Review recommendations, we now have a baseline configuration for the instrument, which is close to the ESA mass allocation. Thanks to the Concurrent Design Facility run on the Focal Plane Module held in October-November, we also have a  baseline configuration for the plateform which will host the two instruments and their thermal control systems.  At mission level, we are given an additional two months to define a baseline which fits within the Ariane 64 lift off capability. Areas to make this possible have been clearly identified. Optimization of the payload/spacecraft configurations will likely be needed, but with the goal to preserve the performance capabilities of the mission. The phase A will proceed for at least another year. Progresses are also being made on many of the technologies that will enable the X-IFU, as demonstrated during the first progress meeting.  On the programmatic side, the two instrument leads and the Athena lead funding agencies have agreed on a draft science management plan. Consolidation of the member state and international contributions will receive more and more attention as we proceed, and this is expected to be a major activity for us in the months to come.  As we move to 2017 (more than 3 years after the adoption of the Hot and Energetic Universe scientific theme already !), we would like to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and your friends a merry Christmas and also a happy new year of health and happiness.  Thanks and all the best, Didier and Thien