RTI2018-096686-B-C21-Athena, phase A2/B/C: scientific participation in the mission and development of the X-IFU instrument

This rolling grant requests financial support to conduct scientific and technological developments in the framework of the Athena mission,
the second large (L2) mission of ESAs science program Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. The next key milestone for Athena in ESA is the
mission adoption, expected in November 2021. Athena will address The Hot and Energetic Universe science theme via a large X-ray
observatory mission with challenging but transformational instrumentation. In particular, the X-IFU will provide for the first time (after the
unfortunate failure of Hitomi) highly sensitive spatially-resolved high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy.
In the framework of the coming study phases of the mission, we request funding for Athena science support activities and for technological
and scientific developments in the X-IFU instrument, as part of the Spanish participation in the mission. The R&D activities to be performed
within this coordinated rolling grant are the following:
1. At mission-level, we will operate the Athena Community Office, as the essential scientific and coordination support agent to canvas the
contributions from the large research community (over 800 people) that are part of the Athena Community Working Groups.
2. The development of Mo/Au-based cryogenic detectors in support of the European backup activities for the X-IFU front-end array. The
scope of this R&D exceeds the envelope of the X-IFU development and opens the opportunity of exploring further applications of this
technology to space, particle detectors, and security.
3. The development of a software prototype of the X-IFU event processor, identifying the optimal processing algorithms to be later
implemented into space-qualified hardware, performing all the necessary trade-offs and testing activities, as well as the collaboration in the
development of the official X-IFU simulator.
4. Astrophysical research activities in preparation for Athena science exploitation. Only by maintaining and promoting X-ray astrophysical
research on the main science drivers of Athena, we can secure a successful scientific return of the mission. In addition, it is extremely
important to strengthen in Spain the research activities using X-ray observatories since, to date, only a small number of Spanish groups
make use of observations from the two largest observatory class X-ray missions (XMM-Newton and Chandra).
All these activities will be done in the framework of the Working Groups/Topical Panels and consortia established for the mission where the
researchers in the team are members.

  • Joint Centre with the combined effort of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and University of Cantabria (UC)

    Instituto de Física de Cantabria
    Edificio Juan Jordá
    Avenida de los Castros, s/n
    E-39005 Santander
    Cantabria, Spain

  • © IFCA- Institute of Physics of Cantabria