Happy New Year 2021

  Another year is getting to an end, and 2020 will be remembered as the year of a pandemic, which affected our lives in many different ways. Despite the burden this situation has created, the development of X-IFU has moved forward, with several key decisions taken to secure its development path. A few days ago, we celebrated two years since the formal endorsement of the X-IFU Consortium by ESA. On this occasion, we published an article summarising the major highlights of the past two years, thus including a retrospective of 2020. We invite you to read it here. 2021 will be another important year for X-IFU, with industry providing its first feedback on the cryostat design, and with the X-IFU system requirement review expected later in the year, in preparation for the Athena adoption still planned for mid-2022. Hopefully, our members will be able to meet and discuss all these advancements during a face-to-face Consortium meeting in 2021. Many of us feel the need for a well-deserved break. So let us, on behalf of the X-IFU Consortium, wish you happy holidays and a happy New Year!   Didier Barret & Vincent Albouys X-IFU Principal Investigator & Project Manager  

Two years ago: The X-IFU Consortium was endorsed by ESA

On the 11th of December 2018, exactly two years ago today, I received a letter from the ESA Director of Science, Günther Hasinger, stating: “I have the pleasure to inform you that the Athena Instrument Consortia Consolidation process, started in July 2018, has been successfully completed. Based on the document provided by you on behalf of your proto-Consortium, the X-IFU instrument consortium for the Athena mission is endorsed by ESA in the structure and with the composition described in the provided documentation”. Announcing the news to the Consortium, I wrote: “This is a remarkable achievement, which demonstrates that ESA has gained confidence that we, as an international consortium, can deliver the great instrument that is X-IFU. This wouldn’t have been possible without your unfailing support from day one. So, let me thank you deeply for contributing to this success. This milestone behind us, let us now focus all our efforts on the upcoming Preliminary Requirement Review”. And indeed, the next big thing to come was the Instrument Preliminary Requirement Review (IPRR). It was a rather intensive effort from the whole team. It started in January and on the 4th of November 2019, a board meeting held at ESTEC declared the X-IFU IPRR successful, with actions identified to pave the way to the Athena Mission Formulation Review (MFR) and beyond. A few days later, the MFR was also declared successful allowing Athena to move to its definition phase. 2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic, but for X-IFU, it was also the year in which two major programmatic and technical changes were implemented to put the instrument development on a safer path. The first one consisted in transferring the X-IFU cryostat and the cooling chain to the industry. It will now be provided under ESA responsibility by the...

SPIE Digital Forum 2020

The international society for optics and photonics (SPIE) is organising its annual Astronomical telescopes and instrumentation Symposium. This year, the event is held as a digital forum from 14 to 18 December, 2020. With the exception of some live plenaries, most sessions will be available on demand for registered participants. X-IFU Consortium members are participating in this event with presentations and posters showing the latest developments of the instrument. You can find them in the section “Space telescopes and instrumentation 2020: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray (Conference 11444)”. We are listing below all X-IFU-related contributions to the SPIE 2020. Presentations at SPIE Session 7: Athena I The X-ray Integral Field Unit instrument: Design and performances (SPIE Paper 11444-27) – Didier Barret, IRAP Session 8: Athena II The X-IFU focal plane assembly development model integration and first test results (SPIE Paper 11444-28) – Henk van Weers, SRON Frequency domain multiplexing technology of transition-edge sensors for x-ray astronomy (SPIE Paper 11444-30) – Hiroki Akamatsu, SRON Main sensor array detection chain sub-system for the X-IFU instrument (SPIE Paper 11444-29) - Hervé Geoffray, CNES   Posters at SPIE Session P4: Posters – Athena Warm front end electronic modelization for the X-IFU ATHENA readout chain simulation (SPIE Paper 11444-45) – Damien Prêle, APC ATHENA warm ASIC for the X-IFU electronics (SPIE Paper 11444-52) – Si Chen, APC A test platform for the detection and readout chain for the Athena X-IFU (SPIE Paper 11444-55) – Gabriele Betancourt-Martinez, IRAP Effects of spatial inhomogeneities in Athena/X-IFU Optical and Thermal filters investigated by numerical analysis (SPIE Paper 11444-60) - Ugo Lo Cicero, INAF The cryogenic anticoincidence detector for ATHENA X-IFU: advancement in the project (SPIE Paper 11444-61) - Claudio Macculi, INAF Session P17: Posters – Detectors Pulse processing in TES detectors: comparative of different short filter methods based on optimal...