Concepts for Future High-Energy Astrophysics Missions

This page lists high energy astrophysics (HEA) mission concepts that are (or were at one time) candidates to be flight programs of US, other 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.

In July 2015, the High-Energy Large- and Medium-Class Space Missions in the 2020s Workshop was held in Chicago to provide input to NASA via its Program Assessment Groups (PAGs) regarding high-energy large mission concepts and probe class missions. The meeting included invited talks covering HEA-related large and medium-class mission concepts along with overviews of HEA science goals for the 2020s. The presentations at this workshop are available here, and included a number of these mission concepts (the notation '2015ChiWS' in the list below links to the pdf or ppt version of the presentation given at the workshop).

US-led (often with international partners)

Multinational and International (often with US partners)

  • 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]

  • DAMPE: Dark Matter Particle Explorer, a mission which will search for dark matter in the universe and also study cosmic ray acceleration and propagation, by detecting high-energy (5 GeV - 10 TeV) gamma rays and electrons, as well as cosmic rays with energies in the range from 100 GeV to 100 TeV [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]

  • LOFT: Large Observatory For X-ray Timing ( [2015ChiWS]), a mission intended to answer fundamental questions about the motion of matter orbiting close to the event horizon of a black hole, and the state of matter in neutron stars, using a highly capable 10 sq. meter broad-band (1 - 80 keV) X-ray telescope with 10 μs timing resolution [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]

  • THESEUS: the Transient High Energy Sources and Early Universe Surveyor, a mission concept proposed in response to the ESA call for medium-size mission (M5) within the Cosmic Vision Programme, will have 1) wide and deep sky monitoring in a broad energy band (0.3 keV - 20 MeV); 2) focusing capabilities in the soft X-ray band providing large grasp and high angular resolution; and 3) on board near-IR capabilities for immediate transient identification and redshift determination. [ESA]

  • Tsubame, a micro-satellite designed to perform X-ray polarimetry on gamma-ray bursts [Japan]

  • 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. XIPE was selected by ESA in June 2015 to undergo a 2 years-long assessment phase in the context of the Cosmic Vision M4 competition [ESA]

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

HEASARC Home | Observatories | Archive | Calibration | Software | Tools | Students/Teachers/Public

Last modified: Thursday, 13-Jul-2017 09:37:47 EDT