The Astro-H (aka NeXT/SXS) Mission
(Launch in 2015)
Astro-H (formerly known as "NeXT") is a facility-class mission to be launched on a JAXA H-IIA into low Earth orbit. The Astro-H mission objectives are to:
- trace the growth history of the largest structures in the Universe
- provide insights into the behavior of material in extreme gravitational fields
- determine the spin of black holes and the equation of state of neutron stars
- trace shock acceleration structures in clusters of galaxies and SNRs
- investigate the detailed physics of jets.
Achieving these objectives requires the Soft X-ray Spectrometer, which combines a lightweight Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) paired with a X-ray Calorimeter Spectrometer (XCS), providing
non-dispersive 7 eV resolution in the 0.3-10 keV bandpass.
Three additional scientific instruments extend the bandpass to produce an observatory with extraordinary new capabilities. The Hard X-ray Imager (HXI) will perform sensitive imaging
spectroscopy in the 5-80 keV band; the non-imaging Soft Gamma-ray Detector (SGD) extends Astro-H’s energy band to 300 keV; and the Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) expands the field of view with a new generation CCD camera.
Astro-H will be Japan's sixth X-ray astronomy mission, and
will be primarily developed at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) in
collaboration with U.S. (NASA/GSFC) and Japanese institutions.
NASA has started the process of selecting science advisors for the Astro-H mission, who will be added as US members to the
international science working group. In addition, a Guest Observer Program including a Guest Observer Facility and
Guest Observer funding has been proposed to NASA, and will be evaluated at a later date.