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ATHENA Instrument Selection Mechanism

View of the Cosmic Vision program 2015-2025. ®ESA

View of the Cosmic Vision program 2015-2025. ®ESA

SENER will perform Instrument Selection Mechanism (ISM) as part of the technology development activities for the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics, ATHENA, the second L-class (Large) Scientific mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). ATHENA’s launch is planned for 2028.

The scope of the project is to design, manufacture and test a Movable Mirror Mechanism allowing the change of mirror orientation when needed from one instrument to another. In order to meet the requirement, a breadboard shall be designed and verified by applicable tests.

The mechanism will allow to use two instruments working with just one large mirror, which is not a common solution. The ATHENA spacecraft carries two independent instruments; a spectrometer (X-IFU) and an imager (Wide Field Imager, WFI) which will share a single focal point provided by a single X-ray telescope.

SENER, with a wide experience in similar mechanisms, is going to implement some innovations to solve several challenges on this project, such us: the huge static load during the launch caused by mirror mass, which is 1200 kg; damping and shock attenuation during the launch; the precise movement generation and control system with very tight tolerances, to get a proper lance focus to the instrument transmission; the low shock Hold Down & Release Mechanism (HDRM) decupling system when starting on orbit phase, as the mirror is very sensitive and might crack; and the specific optics outgassing and cleanliness requirements. Besides, the HDRM will need an innovative design.

In its basic concept, the ISM is a six degrees of freedom hexapod, similar to others already developed by SENER for the IBDM (international Berthing and docking), and in ground astronomy mechanisms for the telescopes GTC and JP Cam. The design for the ISM is based on a SENER patent.

SENER, that was already involved in the phase A for ATHENA mission in the general mechanisms engineering, which are besides ISM, deployable sunshield, venting door, jettison cover, and APM, will deliver the Instrument Selection Mechanism by December 2017.

Copyright SENER 2019