“We are proud to be part of such a unique project.” Ronny van ’t Oever, CEO and founder Micronit
The European Space Agency (ESA) started project ATHENA a couple of years ago. The project aims to study very hot and energetic phenomena in the universe by using the ATHENA X-ray Telescope. This is ESA’s second major mission and part of their Cosmic Vision program. It has a planned launch date for 2031. With the ATHENA X-ray telescope, scientists hope to answer two big scientific questions:
It is expected that ATHENA will do observations for at least five, but possibly even ten years. The telescope will have two instruments: a camera-cum spectrometer (X-ray Integral Field Unit, X-IFU) and a wide-area camera (Wide Field Imager, WFI).
Dutch research institute SRON has been asked to develop an ultra-sensitive detector for the ATHENA X-ray telescope’s camera and the company Cosine will provide advanced mirrors to catch space rays which can then be seen on the detector. These mirrors are a revolutionary optical system, for which stacked thin plates of silicon act as a lens that will lead the caught X-ray light to the two instruments, the camera-cum spectrometer and the wide-area camera. For the production of these advanced mirrors, Cosine contacted Micronit and we of course gladly accepted the challenge and the opportunity to be part of such a unique project.
Right now Micronit is working on the silicon plates and required processes to create this revolutionary optical system, meeting ESA’s requirements. The mirrors, consisting of stacked thin plates of silicon, will be produced in our cleanroom, located in Enschede, the Netherlands.
Read more in our article ‘Stacking of silicon pore optics for IXO’.