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.

US (often with international partners)

Multinational and International

  • A-STAR: All-Sky 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 proposed as a concept for a large effective area 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. On Nov 28th, 2013, ESA selected the science theme "The Hot and Energetic Universe" for its next large satellite mission (L2), and on Jun 27th, 2014, it selected Athena as the mission for this theme, with a target launch date of 2028 [ESA]

  • Dark Matter Satellite will search for dark matter in the universe and study cosmic ray acceleration [China]

  • EDGE: Explorer of Diffuse emission and Gamma ray burst Explosions, a mission with a high (< 3 eV) spectral resolution wide field spectrometer (WFS), together with a wide (1.4-degree diameter) field imager (WFI), a very wide (1/4 of the sky) field monitor (WFM) and a gamma-ray burst detector (GRBD) [Europe]

  • GRAVITAS: General Relativistic Astrophysics Via Timing and Spectroscopy, a large (1.5 m2) effective area, moderate (125 eV) spectral resolution, high (100 µs) temporal resolution broad (0.1 - 10 keV) band X-ray mission targetted at studies of the Fe K line region at 6.4 keV in compact objects [Europe]

  • MIRAX: Monitor e Imageador de Raios X, an X-ray transient mission [Brazil]

  • NHXM: New Hard X-ray Mission, a mission to do soft and hard (0.2-80 keV) X-ray imaging and polarimetry [Italy]

  • 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]

Web page author: Steve Drake (Stephen.A.Drake 'at'

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Last modified: Tuesday, 16-Sep-2014 10:06:08 EDT