The SPO optics are modules that consist of pairs of stacked X-ray mirrors that together form a small X-ray lens. The modules have very low mass compared to other X-ray optics technology with similar imaging resolution.
SPO is the baseline technology for ESA’s future space based X-ray telescope ATHENA. The low mass of SPO makes it possible to build unprecedented large X-ray lenses cost-effectively, yielding several square meters of effective area. It is a factor 10 lighter than present-day technologies such as the XMM Newton telescope optics, which are made from metal. The modularity of SPO allows for a very large (3m diameter is planned, much larger could be made) X-ray optics, with better optical quality compared to currently flying X-ray telescope.
At smaller sizes, other lightweight instrument applications are possible, such as pulsar navigation (see Further Reading below)
- X-ray astronomy
- Pulsar navigation
- Nuclear explosions and cosmic particles in Earth atmosphere
- Beam line, medical, and material analysis X-ray equipment
- Effective collecting area per module@ 1 keV: 12 cm2 at 0.4 kg
- Imaging resolution under 15 arcsec
- Focal lengths between 12 m and 50 m have been demonstrated. Other focal lengths are possible, please inquire.
- Radii of functional optics have been demonstrated from 250mm to 2000mm. Other radii are possible, please inquire.
- Coatings in Ir, Pt, or Au, provide good response up to 8 keV
- Optional multilayers, are capable of boosting response to 30-60 keV
- Technology has TRL 4 for space applications
- Built to order
- Delivery time 1 week per module
- Lead time for focal length other than 15 m is 9 months
- Image resolution below 15 arcsec is under development
- SPO Brochure
- Article on performance Performance prediction and measurement of silicon pore optics
- Article on pulsar navigation Interplanetary GPS using pulsar signals
- SPO at the European Space Agency and the ATHENA observatory’s websites