artist concept of Mir with Kvant module and space shuttle

* Mission Overview

The Kvant 1 module (Kvant means 'quantum' in Russian) was launched on 31 March 1987 and attached to the Mir space station on 12 April 1987. After that, the Mir-Kvant observatory successfully operated until fall 1989, at which time operation was stopped for a planned reconfiguration of the Mir station. Kvant was "restarted" in October 1990 with calibration observations showing no apparent degradation in performance from the year off. There are 4 high-energy instruments in the module: TTM/COMIS - a coded mask imaging spectrometer, HEXE - a set of 4 scintillators, GSPC - a scintillation proportional counter, and Pulsar X-1 - a set of 4 scintillators. All 4 experiments point toward the same source at the same time. These experiments, taken together, are sometimes referred to as the RÖNTGEN Suite or Observatory. The orbital period of the Mir station is 90 minutes. At an inclination of 57 degrees, some 20 minutes of each orbit of each orbit are spent outside the radiation belts. Spacecraft stabilization over a 20 minute period has been found to be better than 2 arcminutes. The Kvant module is 19 feet long and 13.6 feet across at its widest point. A cosmonaut controls the observations from a pressurized cabin inside the module.

* Instrumentation

TTM/COMIS is a wide-angle camera that uses a coded aperture mask to determine source location. It covers the energy range 2-30 keV with a 7.8 deg x 7.8 deg field of view FWHM. The geometric area is 655 sq-cm. It can achieve an angular resolution of 2 arcminutes and a time resolution of 1 s. The Galactic center region was imaged withthe TTM demonstrating the efficiency of coded mask telescopes observations in hard X-rays.

HEXE, or High Energy X-ray Experiment, employs a phoswich of sodium iodide and cesium iodide. It covers the energy range 15-200 keV with a 1.6 deg x 1.6 deg field of view FWHM. Each of the 4 identical detectors has a geometric area of 200 sq-cm. The maximum time resolution is 0.3-25 ms.

GSPC, also called Sirene 2, is a gas scintillation proportional counter. It covers the energy range 2-100 keV with a 3 deg x 3 deg field of view FWHM. The detector geometric area is 300 sq-cm. The instrument has a maximum time resolution of 1.25-2.5 ms.

Pulsar X-1 consists of 4 phoswich detectors which covers the energy range 50-800 keV with a 3 deg x 3 deg field of view FWHM. Each of the 4 identical detectors has 314 sq-cm geometric area. The maximum time resolution is 10 s.

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Page authors: Lorella Angelini Jesse Allen
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