Space Commerce

cosine awarded contract to further develop high-energy X-ray optics for Athena by ESA

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 18, 2022
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cosine awarded contract to further develop high-energy X-ray optics for Athena by ESA

cosine and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed the next stage of the development contract regarding Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) X-ray mirrors for the Athena mission.

This step aims to further prepare the high-resolution X-ray optics for the production phase.

cosine, a world leader in the development and manufacturing of high-energy optics, is heading the industrial and academic consortium developing SPO for ESA. This new ESA contract is a continuation of the initial work of developing a completely novel way of manufacturing lightweight, high-resolution X-ray optics. In this contract, ESA is funding cosine and its partners Micronit (NL), INAF/OAB (IT), the ALBA Synchrotron (ES), the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB (DE), the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and CHEXS (DK) to prepare the SPO mass production chain for the next phase of the Athena telescope.

The Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics (Athena) is an X-ray observatory mission selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) within its Cosmic Vision program. It addresses the Hot and Energetic Universe scientific theme. Athena will operate in the energy range of 0.2–12 keV and will offer spectroscopic and imaging capabilities vastly exceeding those of currently operating X-ray astronomy satellites, such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope.

cosine managing director Max Collon says: “We have been developing these next-generation X-ray optics in cooperation with ESA for more than ten years, so this is a very well-established partnership. We are very proud and pleased that SPO now becomes ready to realize the Athena telescope, enabling it with this technology. This contract is an important step to improve the quality of the X-ray optics further and complete the production chain required to make a telescope with a 300 m2 polished mirror surface.”

About SPO and cosine

Silicon Pore Optics was invented by cosine in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and involves the bonding and stacking of many silicon wafers, creating a novel type of lightweight X-ray lens. cosine’s High Energy Optics business unit is internationally known for the development and application of X-ray optics and systems. It combines and applies knowledge about semiconductor processes, silicon, glass, and mass production to develop and produce lightweight, high-resolution X-ray optics. Those find applications ranging from space-based astrophysical telescopes to medical, semiconductor, and material analysis systems used by industry and academia.

cosine is a leading worldwide company that combines physics and technology to bring new measurement solutions to its clients. Since 1998, we have been developing and delivering innovative measurement solutions for space and industrial applications. cosine operates 1.000 m2 of cleanrooms and high-tech assembly facilities to build and test the systems it produces for customers at our headquarters in Sassenheim, The Netherlands.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.