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24-03-2018 - Wrap-up of Consortium meeting #7

The 7th consortium meeting spread over a full week was held at the Astroparticle and Cosmology Laboratory (ApC) in Paris from March 19th to 24th. The organization of the whole week was led by Damien Prêle. ApC provides a major component of the X-IFU, namely the so-called warm front end electronics, the closest part of the readout chain to the cold electronics of the X-IFU. Those electronics are a key contributor to the instrument performance,  benefiting from the excellent skills of the ApC electronics group.

The meeting was attended by about 140 engineers and scientists from all across the world. 18 splinters were organized before and after the 1.5 day plenary sessions. The plenary sessions featured the usual presentations from the X-IFU Consortium and project leads and ESA.

CM7 will be remembered as the meeting in which a consolidated baseline of the X-IFU was presented by the CNES project team. This closed a very active period of activity of three months. The main changes is that the cryogenic chain now fulfills plainly the 30% margin policy on thermal budgets, even in the more dramatic case of a cooler failure. This was achieved, assuming that the outer vessel of the Dewar would be cooled at 200 K, a lower dissipation at the 2K stage and updating cooler performances. This is a milestone because a stable configuration for the instrument will enable us to hold the IPRR by the end of 2018. Optimization work will  still continue until June at least, as some promising options have been identified. The CNES team and all the consortium partners involved should be deeply thanked for this major achievement. A mass non-compliance of less than 30 kg remains, but is modest compared to the 30% system level margins of the 7 ton Athena spacecraft. The baseline configuration was reached while preserving the top level performance requirements of the X-IFU. This clearly shows that before considering de-scopes for the instrument, consolidated design work is required, and this takes time and efforts. Thanks to Thien Lam Trong, our CNES project manager, for getting there without asking me to descope the instrument.

Of the highlights of the meeting, the significant progresses made on the detector cooling system by the CEA-SBT and JAXA team was impressive as 50 mK is routinely achieved in different cooler configurations. The progresses in the TES development and the performance of the baseline readout for X-IFU should also be emphasized. SRON now measures on single pixels a spectral resolution close to 2.5 eV. Next step is obviously to check the performance when pixels are multiplexed. The improvements in the sensor (e.g. higher resistivity devices) helps reading them at high frequencies, when an AC loss phenomena was previously measured with less resistive devices. The need to define baseline parameters for the sensors is now becoming urgent. In parallel, the analysis of Time Domain Multiplexing as a back-up to FDM is progressing well, on track for getting a detailed report by June. Progresses in the definition of several subsystems should also be mentioned, taking advantage of iterations on specifications with the CNES project team.

The science talk by Edoardo Cucchetti on cluster science highlighted the unique capabilities of the X-IFU. The full bread of X-IFU Science Advisory Team activities were presented, before the introduction of the X-IFU instrument simulator (XIFUSIM), whose first release was announced. A report on the WFI technology status was also presented by Arne Rau. The meeting included a presentation by Paul Callanan on a potential Irish participation to the X-IFU, for which PRODEX funding was obtained. It is worth noting that a contribution from Czech Republic is now also being considered for X-IFU, under the leadership of Jiri Svoboda who attended the meeting.

Overall, CM7 was an extremely important meeting, marking a milestone in the project life, because we do have now a stable baseline. Everyone will keep working hard on the consolidation of the baseline.

The next Consortium meeting will be in Geneva from September 10th to 14th, hosted by the University of Geneva, also a key contributor to the X-IFU, through the filter wheel and a large participation to the X-IFU Instrument Science Center. Needless to say that it will be a great success if it brings the same momentum to the X-IFU Consortium as CM7 did.


19-03-2018 - X-IFU Consortium meeting #7

X-IFU Consortium meeting #7 starts on March 19th and will last throughout the week. 140 registered participants are expected at ApC in Paris. Highlights of the meeting should be the presentation of the revised baseline configuration for the instrument, as well as recent progresses in technology.

23-01-2018 - ASST #16 finished

The Athena Science Study Team has endorsed the new science requirements (V2) for the Athena mission. We now have a clear path forward to the Mission Formulation Review, proceeding safely towards the Mission Adoption Review. We will soon communicate to the Athena community.

16-01-2018 - Release of the January 2018 issue of the X-IFU Gazette

Thanks to Françoise Douchin, on behalf of the editorial team, I am pleased to announce the release of the January 2018 issue of the X-IFU Gazette.

Thanks to all the contributors to this new Gazette.

Enjoy the reading. Don’t hesitate to provide feedback to Françoise ( on the content of the X-IFU Gazette.

Best regards,

Françoise and Didier

02-12-2017 - TDM workshop very successful

We had a workshop at NASA/GSFC about Time Domain Multiplexing as a backup to the current Frequency Domain Multiplexing readout. The meeting went extremely well, was well prepared by our US colleagues, and very informative. SRON, CNES, IRAP and APC participated to the workshop in addition to our US colleagues from NASA, NIST. It will be followed by a 6 month exercise to consolidate the inputs and look at the system level implications. This will lead to a report in June. Thanks to Simon Bandler for the organization of the workshop and for his great hospitality. TDM workshop group picture

04-11-2017 - List of X-IFU related papers

19-10-2017 - Release of the October 2017 issue of the X-IFU Gazette

Thanks to Françoise Douchin, on behalf of the editorial team, I am pleased to announce the release of the October 2017 issue of the X-IFU Gazette. The slight delay is due to the fact that we wanted to include a note by Luigi Piro on the detection of the X-ray counterpart of the neutron star merger that shacked the world on Monday. Thanks Luigi and congratulation for this very important discovery. Looking forward to detect those routinely with the X-IFU.

Thanks to all the contributors to this new Gazette.

Enjoy the reading. Don’t hesitate to provide feedback to Françoise ( on the content of the X-IFU Gazette.

Best regards,

Françoise and Didier

16-09-2017 - X-IFU week in Madrid is over

The sixth X-IFU consortium meeting took place from September 11th to 15th in Madrid at CSIC headquarters. It was hosted by Miguel Mas Hesse (CAB-INTA) and his team, during a very sunny, hot and beautiful week in Madrid. More than 120 X-IFU team members participated in the 18 splinters and the 1.5 days of the plenary sessions. The splinter meetings covered several technical items (sub-systems of the instrument, e.g. the instrument control unit, the TES and readout chain, the power distribution unit, the dewar door), performance items (e.g. system, instrumental background, end-to-end simulator), science and calibration activities, as well as management.

The plenary sessions started from a report on the Cost Driven Reprogramming Exercise, followed by a presentation by ESA on the status of the Athena project. Then, a series of CNES presentations gave a broad view of the study status at instrument and system levels, detailing the current baseline design of the instrument which is in several aspects reaching a high level of maturity. Each sub-system manager then presented a status on the study activities, demonstrating again the breadth of the activities throughout the consortium. The second day of the plenary sessions started by a presentation by Luigi Piro (IAPS) on the transient Universe as will be probed by Athena, a presentation by Matteo Guainazzi (ESA study scientist) on the science requirements, and a status report on WFI by Arne Rau (MPE). Several presentations related to the instrument performance followed. Overall, the quality and depth of the different presentations demonstrated not only the skills of the team, but also its motivation and dedication to meeting the very ambitious and demanding performance of the instrument. The X-IFU Consortium meeting #7 will be in Paris (ApC) in March 2018 and will also be spread over a week. The Consortium meeting picture is shown below. Didier Barret, X-IFU PI.

The final agenda of the plenary sessions of CM#6


07-09-2017 - X-IFU presentation at the Power of X-ray spectroscopy conference

Overview presentation of the X-IFU at the Power of X-ray Spectroscopy conference in Warsaw (September 6-8th, 2017) can be found here.

13-07-2017 - Release of the July 2017 issue of the X-IFU Gazette

Thanks to Françoise Douchin, on behalf of the editorial team, I am pleased to announce the release of the N°4 July 15th 2017 issue of the X-IFU Gazette.

Enjoy the reading. Don't hesitate to provide feedback to Françoise ( on the content of the X-IFU Gazette.

Best regards,

Françoise and Didier