Science Focus: New Missions
International X-ray Observatory (IXO)

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) is a new X-ray telescope with joint participation from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). This project supersedes both NASA's Constellation-X and ESA's XEUS mission concepts.

In mid-2008, officials from ESA, NASA, and JAXA headquarters agreed to conduct a joint study of IXO with a single merged set of top-level science goals. This agreement established key science measurement requirements.

The spacecraft configuration for the IXO study is a mission featuring a single large X-ray mirror and an extendible optical bench with a focal length of ~20m and a suite of five focal plane instruments.

The X-ray instruments under study for the IXO concept include: a wide field imaging detector, a high-spectral-resolution imaging spectrometer (calorimeter), a hard X-ray imaging detector, a grating spectrometer, a high timing resolution spectrometer, and a polarimeter. The IXO mission concept is being submitted to the U.S. Decadal Survey committee and to ESA's Cosmic Vision process.

People at SAO

Michael Garcia, SAO/IXO Science Lead
Jay Bookbinder, Mission Scientist
Randall Smith, Scientist
Mark Freeman, Engineering Lead
Paul Reid, Optics Lead
Suzanne Romaine, Detectors and Optics

Advisory Groups

Several key advisory groups of scientists and engineers are guiding the IXO development. A coordination group oversees the work of the science definition team, the telescope working group, and the instrument working group.

IXO Supporters

In addition to these advisory groups, more than 200 scientists from over 60 institutions around the world are actively involved with IXO. Interested scientists can keep up to date on IXO developments by signing up for the 'ixo-supporters' email list.

The IXO supporters provide help and input to the advisory groups listed above. Many of these supporters are members of previous Constellation-X and XEUS science and instrumentation teams.


International X-ray Observatory

IXO builds on three decades of successful X-ray telescope development, including the currently operating Chandra X-ray Observatory (NASA) and XMM-Newton mission (ESA). The IXO mission study produced a spacecraft configuration that features a single large X-ray mirror assembly and an extendible optical bench with a focal length of ~20 m, and a suite of focal plane instruments. Areas of technology development include X-ray optics, detector and cooling systems. Learn more ...


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