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Space Technology Research Grants

The Micro-X X-ray Imaging Spectrometer

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The Micro-X X-ray Imaging Spectrometer
I am currently pursuing the development of a high resolution X-ray imaging spectrometer for my graduate research, via my participation in the Micro-X collaboration. Micro-X is a rocket borne spectrometer, using Transition Edge Sensors to achieve a spectral resolution that is orders of magnitude better than that of previous experiments. Transition Edge Sensors are held in a superconducting transition so that when a photon causes a small increase in temperature, there is a significant rise in resistance, providing very sensitive thermometry in this range. Upon launch, we will be able to use this instrument to probe the composition and dynamics of supernova remnants. The superior resolution of Micro-X will enable various atom emission lines to be resolved in the spectrum, from which the abundances and velocities of atomic species can be determined. This will allow us to gain insights into the makeup and dynamics of the products of supernovae. The completion of this project will represent a step forward in instrumentation, improving on the detectors that are available for X-ray astrophysics. The integration of the detectors into the entire flight system involves significant work with cryogenics and suborbital rocket systems, which are also relevant subjects of interest. In addition to the importance of this project in developing space instrumentation, it will also provide a great opportunity for me to continue my training as a scientist so that I will be able to work on further challenges in space instrumentation in the future. More »

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