The most important characteristics of XMM-Newton are compiled in Table 1. More detailed numbers will follow in the chapters on the individual instruments (below) and a comparison with other X-ray satellites is provided in § 3.7. The basic characteristics of XMM-Newton are:
|Instrument||EPIC MOS||EPIC pn||RGS||OM|
|Bandpass||0.15-12 keV||0.15-12 keV||0.35-2.5 keV||180-600 nm|
|Orbital target vis.||5-135 ks||5-135 ks||5-135 ks||5-145 ks|
|Field of view (FOV)||30'||30'||5'||17'|
|Pixel size||40 m (1.1'')||150 m (4.1'')||81 m (910 Å)||0.476513''|
|Timing resolution||1.75 ms||0.03 ms||0.6 s||0.5 s|
|Spectral resolution||70 eV||80 eV||0.04/0.025 Å||350|
If not prohibited, e.g. by target brightness constraints, all six XMM-Newton science instruments operate simultaneously. They work independently (i.e., exposures of the individual instruments do not necessarily start and end at the same time).
XMM-Newton carries the X-ray telescopes with the largest effective area of a focusing telescope ever: the total mirror geometric effective area at 1.5 keV energy is ca. 1550 cm for each telescope, i.e., 4650 cm in total.
XMM-Newton's high sensitivity is achieved by using 58 thin nested mirror shells in each X-ray telescope. The achieved point-spread function (PSF) has a full width at half maximum (FWHM) on the order of and a HEW, at which 50% of the total energy are encircled, of ca. .
The EPIC CCD cameras have moderate spectral resolution (with a resolving power, E/E, of ca. 20-50). The RGS spectrometers offer much higher spectral resolution, with a resolving power in the range of 200-800.
Observations with the co-aligned OM optical/UV telescope render possible the monitoring and identification of optical/UV counterparts of X-ray sources seen by the X-ray telescopes as well as imaging of the surrounding field.
A highly elliptical orbit offers continuous target visibility of up to about 40 hours, with a minimum height for science observations of 46,000 km. This is very favourable for studies of source variability and also in order to achieve a high overall observatory efficiency.
For a comparison of these basic characteristics with those of other past or contemporaneous X-ray satellite missions, see § 3.7.
More detailed information on the mirrors and on the instruments listed in Table 1 and their observing modes is provided in the following sections (§ 3.2 - § 3.5).