Lynx X-ray Observatory
The Lynx X-ray Observatory
|Mission type||Space observatory|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2035 (proposed)|
|Diameter||3 m to 6 m|
|Focal length||10 m to 20 m|
The Lynx X-ray Observatory is a concept study for the next X-ray space telescope mission. Still a preliminary concept in formulation, it will be presented to the United States Decadal Survey in 2019 for a possible selection to NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions. If funded and developed, Lynx will be able to detect and characterize extremely faint objects and study physical processes in a very wide range of astrophysical settings.
In 2016, NASA began considering four different space telescopes to select the next Flagship or Large Strategic Science Mission; they are the Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx), Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR), Origins Space Telescope (OST), and Lynx X-Ray Surveyor. In 2019 the four teams will turn their final reports over to the National Academy of Sciences, whose independent Decadal Survey committee advises NASA on which mission should take top priority. If funded, it would launch approximately in 2035.
- First accretion light in the universe
- Cycles of baryons in and out of galaxies
- Physics of energy feedback
- Physics of cosmic plasmas
- Stellar lifecycles
- Evolution of structure and active galactic nuclei populations
- Physics of high density matter, compact objects, and accretion
Preliminary characteristics and payload
Based on the science goals, the sensitivity required must be 50× better than the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Some key desired instrument specifications have been identified, and they include a high angular resolution of 0.5 arcsec or better, and very high spectral resolution (R >~ 5000) in the soft band. Some of the notional payload are:
- Large-area high angular resolution optical assembly
- X-ray Microcalorimeter Imaging Spectrometer (Whiskers)
- X-Ray Grating Spectrometer (Claws)
- Critical Angle Transmission Gratings (CAT)
The preliminary configuration is a 3 m diameter × 10 m focal length telescope, but they are also considering a 6 m diameter × 20 m focal length. It still has to be determined the maximum focal length that fits into an Atlas V 551 or Falcon 9 Heavy rocket fairing. The mirror would be built from densely packed thin mirror elements for a 3 m outer diameter with a total collecting area of 2.3 m2. The mirror's mass would be about 200 kg (440 lb).
- Swartz, Douglas (2017). "Lynx - Revealing the Revealing the invisible Universe". Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- Lynx Mission Concept Status (PDF). Jessica A. Gaskin, Feryal Özel, Alexey Vikhlinin. NASA.
- Scoles, Sarah (30 March 2016). "NASA Considers Its Next Flagship Space Telescope". Scientific American. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
- Gaskin, Jessica A.; Swartz, Douglas A. (2017). "THE LYNX MISSION: REVEALING THE INVISIBLE UNIVERSE" (PDF). NASA. NASA Technical Reports Server. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- Lynx - Science themes. Lynx home page. NASA.
- Decadal survey 2020: X-Ray Surveyor –Lynx (PDF) M. Tashiro, A. Bamba, K. Nakazawa, Y. Ezoe, K. Matsushita, K. Sato, Y. Terada, Y. Yamasaki.
- The Lynx Optics Working Group: objectives and current status - Formal Lynx Optics Requirements. NASA. August 2017.
- X-ray Surveyor Optical Design Studies. (PDF) Paul B. Reid. NASA.