Concepts for Future High-Energy Astrophysics Missions
This page lists high energy astrophysics mission concepts that are candidates
to be in the programs of national or international space agencies. More
information on mission studies under NASA's Physics of the Cosmos (PCos)
program office is available at the Physics of the Cosmos web site. In 2011 NASA HQ initiated an X-ray
mission concepts study through the NASA Physics of the Cosmos Program.
The final report of this study listed a number of notional missions,
including a notional calorimeter mission (N-CAL), a notional X-ray grating
spectrometer, AXSIO (see below), a notional wide-field imager (N-WFI), and
various combinations of these capabilities on a single platform.
EPE: Extreme Physics Explorer: a concept for a
timing/spectroscopy mission that would use micro-channel plate optics
(MCPO) to provide 4 m2 effective area focused to ~1
arc-min onto an X-ray calorimeter.
Energetic X-ray Imaging Survey Telescope, a hard X-ray (5-600 keV)
imaging all-sky deep survey mission that will use a coded-mask
high-energy telescope (HET) with imaging CZT detectors to image
sources such as AGN, black hole transients, etc., in a 70 by 90
degree field of view with 2 arcminute resolution; an accompanying
optical/IR telescope (OIT) will enable multiwavelength studies and
prompt follow-up of gamma-ray bursts.
The Generation X-Ray Mission, a large effective area (50 square
meters at 1 keV,
or 500 x Chandra) X-ray telescope to study the new frontier of
astrophysics: the birth and evolution of the first stars, galaxies,
and black holes in the early Universe.
HEX-P: High-Energy X-ray Probe, a concept for a probe-class
next-generation high-energy X-ray mission with broadband (0.1-200
keV) response and ~40 times the sensitivity of previous missions
above 10 keV.
NICER: Neutron star Interior Composition exploreR, a
instrument on the ISS consisting of an array of 56 X-ray telescopes
to study the time variability of the emission from X-ray pulsars,
thereby deriving information on their radii and masses which
will tightly constrain the neutron stars' equation of state. NICER
was selected in the Explorer 2011 AO as a 'mission of opportunity'
for evaluation as a potential future space mission and was
selected for Phase B in April 2013.
a concept for a rapid response mission to study the warm-hot
intergalactic medium using
GRBs as its probes, as well as to study the host galaxies of GRBs
and the phyics of GRBs.
WFXT: Wide-Field X-ray Telescope, a proposed mission with
an effective area 10 times Chandra's which will perform
surveys of the sky in the soft X-ray band (0.4-6 keV).
Xenia: a Probe of Cosmic Chemical Evolution, a concept
for a medium-size cosmology mission (with international collaborators)
which will use gamma-ray
bursts to probe the cosmic 'web', dark energy, dark matter, and
clusters of galaxies.
Multinational and International
Transient Astrophysics Explorer is a
mission concept to detect and locate X-ray transients (XRT's), likely
including gravitational wave sources, TDE's, gamma-ray bursts, etc.,
using a wide-FOV coded mask instrument (Owl) to detect XRT's and a sensitive
wide-field focussing soft X-ray instrument (Lobster) to obtain arcminute
or better positions [Europe]
ATHENA+, an X-ray observatory to be proposed as a large
mission for the ESA science program, incorporating a single telescope
with a fixed focal length (12 m) and two interchangeable instruments
in the focal plane, a wide-field imager (WFI) and an X-ray integral
field unit (X-IFU), i.e., an X-ray calorimeter. ATHENA+ is a new
version of the previously proposed ATHENA: The Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics
[ESA], which itself superceded the joint ESA/JAXA/NASA concept, IXO: International X-ray
Dark Matter Satellite will search for dark matter in the
universe and study cosmic ray acceleration [China]
PheniX, a very-broad-band (1-200 keV) high spectral-resolution
(<~ 0.5 keV) focussing X-ray telescope able to do Compton polarimetry
for E > 50 keV, and a coded-mask all-sky monitor [Multi-national]
XIPE: the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer, a mission
to do cosmic polarimetry in the 2-10 keV band, as well as solar
flare polarimetry in the 15-35 keV band and solar coronal spectroscopy
in the 1.2-15 keV band [Multi-national]