NASA > GSFC > Astrophysics Science Division > IXO
Come to meet IXO scientists at Explore@NASA Goddard– a free open house event at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Saturday, May 14, 11am – 5pm rain or shine.
US IXO Team,
This is an update on the discussions with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the recent ESA-NASA bilateral meeting. This was reported by Jon Morse (HQ Astrophysics Division Director), first, to the IXO and LISA teams on Tuesday, and then, at the Astrophysics NASA Advisory Committee (NAC) sub-committee meeting on Thursday afternoon.
IXO was one of three candidates competing for the L1 opportunity in ESA´s Cosmic Vision Program (2015-2025). The Astrophysics and Planetary decadal rankings and NASA´s constrained out-year resources projected in the President's FY12 budget request led ESA to conclude that none of the three mission concepts were feasible within the Cosmic Vision L1 schedule. Consequently, ESA has ended consideration of IXO and the other concepts as partnerships at the scale proposed in the New Worlds New Horizons decadal survey (NWNH) and EJSM/Laplace in Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science. Instead, ESA has begun a rapid definition effort that includes the formation of a new science team (to be announced shortly). That effort will identify science goals and a mission concept that can be implemented as part of an ESA-led mission launching in the early 2020´s for a cost to ESA of about 800M Euro. Revised mission concepts from the three science areas will be considered in a selection process tentatively foreseen in February 2012.
A future minor role for NASA in the new ESA-led X-ray mission, in particular contributions at the instrument level, has not been ruled out. NASA will participate in the new ESA science team through a "NASA HQ-empowered scientist." This will be a NASA civil servant scientist who will be the conduit for any engagement with the new ESA team.
Currently the decadal survey recommendations are centered on the IXO (and LISA) concept and partnerships. NASA HQ will NOT disband the current NASA IXO (and LISA) teams immediately, but will follow a deliberate path towards redirecting the NASA efforts in the context of the decadal survey recommendations. NASA's Astrophysics Division plans to continue base funding (assuming not-larger-than-anticipated cuts from Congress) for the IXO (and LISA) study team(s) through FY11 to continue the technology development and so that NASA can support any effort requested by ESA through the NASA representative. The HQ Astrophysics Division may at some point in the future engage the community about strategic investments in X-ray astrophysics and possible solicitations for new concept studies in the context of the NWNH priorities.
It is expected that in about one year´s time NASA will ask the NRC to prioritize possible NWNH investments for the rest of the decade, including funding possible NASA participation in an ESA L1 mission – which we hope will be the X-ray mission. This would be in the context of not only the ESA L1 mission selection, but also the M1 and M2 mission selections, and the JWST re-plan.
We plan to keep in communication with the US IXO team as this unfolds. And seek input from the community at the appropriate times.
Feel free to forward this note to all interested parties.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
The explanation letter was sent by Paul Nandra
Dear IXO Science Associates,
For those of you who weren´t at the Rome meeting, please note this important message from Fabio Favata regarding the ESA selection process. The essence of this is that ESA intend to delay the L-class decision until February 2012, to allow a team to study whether the L-class candidates can be rescoped so that they are largely affordable by Europe alone.
This is excellent news for IXO. While such a mission would necessarily have to be considerably less ambitious than the current concept, there is at least now a clear path forward towards a possible launch for IXO in the early 2020s.
Please, stay tuned for more information as this process evolves: there will be be a strong need for input from the Science Associates over the coming months to help shape the revised mission, and update the science case for the new concept that emerges.
We will post updates as more information becomes known.
This meeting will bring together the X-ray astronomical community worldwide to discuss the following key science topics of IXO:– Co-evolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes – Large scale structure and the creation of chemical elements – Matter under extreme conditions – Life cycles of matter and energy in the Universe
We plan to have both invited and contributed talks, as well as a poster session.
Meeting location: CNR, Headquarter, P.le Aldo Moro, 7, Rome.
Mike Garcia´s talk "IXO Absolute Astrometry Requirements" is available for download.
The Astro2010 Decadal Survey report was released in pre-publication form today. Astro2010 panels of experts, working under the auspices of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences,undertook a comprehensive review of the astrophysics and made recommendations for both space- and ground-based efforts for the next decade.
The report recommends only three large space missions to be launched or studied in the next decade. The W-FIRST mission (a wide-field near-infrared telescope aimed at understanding dark energy and exoplanet populations that is a re-incarnation of JDEM) is followed by LISA and IXO. The prioritization of LISA above IXO in the decadal is, however, contingent on two specific "tripwires" – in the near term, LISA must be ranked first in the Cosmic Vision L-class missions and, following that, the Pathfinder must be fully successful. Finally, the report recommended that there should be a 50/50 ESA/NASA cost split.
The report specifically recognizes "IXO’s high scientific importance" as a "powerful X-ray telescope that will transform our understanding of hot gas associated with stars and galaxies in all evolutionary stages" and also states that IXO is "central to many of the science questions identified by this survey." The report summarizes that NASA should "determine an appropriate path forward to realize IXO as soon as possible" if IXO is selected by ESA as an L-class mission, and that IXO has been recommended for approximately $200M in technology development funding for this decade.
Also included in the top space mission recommendations is strong support for the ongoing Explorer program of small and medium-sized missions. The full pre-publication version of the report is available on the Decadal website.
Accretion studies will be dramatically changed by the next generation of high-spectral resolution X-ray observatories such as Astro-H and the International X-ray Observatory (IXO). Astro-H will provide the first high-resolution data around the key 6 keV Fe K complex combined with a significantly larger area for spectroscopy at lower energies and simultaneous hard X-ray coverage. IXO will expand these capabilities with higher resolution across the entire 0.3—12 keV band combined with hard X-ray capabilities. Taken together, these capabilities will enable spectroscopic studies, including time-resolved studies, that are simply impossible today. I will discuss the mission parameters and some of the science of accretion disks expected to be revealed by these upcoming missions.
Overall, the project is in excellent shape, with studies by all three agencies indicating a feasible mission, and steady progress on technology development. One of our great strengths is the large, broad-based community who define and support IXO´s science goals, so your continued involvement is crucial to the success of the mission.
The IXO display included a 1/40 scale IXO model, the IXO poster covering IXO science and recent technology progress, and a couple of family hands-on educational activities. The last included a model that illustrated why astronomers need to put telescopes in space and a spectroscopy activity that explained how astronomers use spectroscopy to determine the composition of stars and other objects in space. These activities attracted a constant stream of visitors in a wide range of ages from 5 to 65 who enjoyed them very much.
The first generation of galaxies, quasars and GRBs is an exciting new field, and a major science goal of all upcoming and planned missions, including IXO. Niel Brandt will give a talk about IXO. The other conference topics include:
– The transition from PopIII stars to PopII and PopI star formation;
– The first galaxies and quasars, and SMBH -- host relations in the early Universe;
– The most distant gamma ray bursts;
– Feedback and impact of the first objects, re-ionization, and metal enrichment;
– Current observations and future missions with ALMA, JWST, JANUS, IXO, MWA...
A poster, covering IXO science and recent technology progress, was presented at
We will have our next big science team meeting on April 27—29, 2010 in Paris, France, hosted by our ESA colleagues. During this meeting it is planned to:
– Update the community on the status of the IXO mission following the decadal survey activities and the on-going studies in Europe;
– Review/(update where necessary) the science goals of IXO;
– Gather any further science topics that could be addressed by IXO within current payload baseline;
– Discuss synergies with other planned or proposed facilities e.g. JWST, EUCLID, SPICA, ELTs, ALMA, SKA;
– Discuss the timetable for presenting IXO to the Cosmic Vision down selection process and ensuring feedback from the community to support IXO through mission selection.
Tests on a limited section of a stack of silicon pore optics have shown an improvement in the angular resolution up to 10 arcsec from the earlier 17 arcsec. Mandrels used to form the segmented glass mirror segments have been polished up to the 2 arcsec level, and the best mirror segments are now approaching the 5 arcsec level. The calorimeter team has manufactured the first sets of flight-sized «inner» arrays (32×32 pixel, 2 arcmin FOV) and measured 2.7 eV resolution on them. The team now is investigating several designs to populate the «outer» array which will bring the FOV up to 5×5 arcmin.
Sunday, 7 June 2009–Thursday, 11 June 2009, Pasadena, CA. The IXO Team is giving a requested presentation to the Astro2010 Program Prioritization Panel.
Joel Bregman´s science talk is available for download.