The Astro-H (aka NeXT/SXS) Mission
(Launch in 2016)
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 (SXS), which combines a lightweight Soft X-ray Telescope paired with a X-ray Calorimeter Spectrometer, 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) performs 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 in the energy range of 0.5-12 keV .
Astro-H is the Japan's sixth X-ray astronomy mission, and is 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/GSFC has also responsibility for the Science Data Center charter to delevelop the analysis software and the processing pipeline as well as the the Guest Observer Facility in support of the Guest Observer Programs after the Astro-H launch.