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Session 71 - Space Astronomy in the Next Millennium.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center
We are studying a Large Area X-ray Spectroscopy Mission conceived and sized to address a range of fundamental astrophysical questions such as:
- the role of flares and microflares in heating stellar coronae - the impact of metallicity on the Eddington limit in accreting binaries - the enrichment of the interstellar and intracluster medium - the formation of galaxies from cooling cluster gas, and - the nature of the environment around quasars and other AGNs.
The essence of our concept is to build six identical modest satellites, each carrying a highly packed assembly of replicated mirror shells and X-ray spectrometers, launched into a solar, drift-away orbit (similar to that studied for the SIRTF program). We envision a large collecting area (\sim 3.3 sq. m around 1 keV), and a relatively high spectral resolution (E/\Delta E \sim 800 at 20Åwith the ability to study extended sources (up to 1' or 2') as well as point-like objects.
The proposed approach resonates extraordinarily well with NASA's strategy for the future. The program distributes risk over several launches using a number of small, lightweight, inexpensive satellites to achieve the required large area and scientific sensitivity. The development time is relatively short - 3 years from program start to first launch, with subsequent launches every 4-6 months. The relatively benign, solar orbit supports very simple operational scenarios and safe modes, and is conducive to long life (> 5 years). We anticipate widespread community involvement through use of the World-Wide-Web to disseminate information and exchange ideas, as part of an open process which will also include workshops to refine the scientific objectives and technical approach.
Program listing for Wednesday