Development of the ATHENA mirror

Marcos Bavdaz, Eric Wille, Mark Ayre, Ivo Ferreira, Brian Shortt, Sebastiaan Fransen, Maximilien Collon, Giuseppe Vacanti, Nicolas Barrière, Boris Landgraf, Jessica Sforzini, Karin Booysen, Coen van Baren, Karl-Heinz Zuknik, Desiree Della Monica Ferreira, Sonny Massahi, Finn Christensen, Michael Krumrey, Peter Müller, Vadim BurwitzGiovanni Pareschi, Daniele Spiga, Giuseppe Valsecchi, Dervis Vernani, Paul Oliver, André Seidel

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The development of the X-ray optics for ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics)[1-4], the selected second large class mission in the ESA Science Programme, is progressing further, in parallel with the payload preparation and the system level studies. The optics technology is based on the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) [5-48], which utilises the excellent material properties of Silicon and benefits from the extensive investments made in the semiconductor industry. With its pore geometry the SPO is intrinsically very robust and permits the use of very thin mirrors while achieving good angular resolution. In consequence, the specific mass of the resultant ATHENA optics is very low compared to other technologies, and suitable to cope with the imposed environmental requirements. Further technology developments preparing the ATHENA optics are ongoing, addressing additive manufacturing of the telescope structure, the integration and alignment of the mirror assembly, numerical simulators, coating optimisations, metrology, test facilities, studies of proton reflections and meteorite impacts, etc. A detailed Technology Development Plan was elaborated and is regularly being updated, reflecting the progress and the mission evolution. The required series production and integration of the many hundred mirror modules constituting the ATHENA telescope optics is an important consideration and a leading element in the technology development. The developments are guided by ESA, implemented in industry and supported by research institutions. The many ongoing SPO technology development activities aim at demonstrating the readiness of the optics technology at the review deciding the adoption of ATHENA onto the ESA Science flight programme, currently expected for 2021. Technology readiness levels of 5/6 have to be demonstrated for all critical elements, but also the compliance to cost and schedule constraints for the mission.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray
Number of pages15
PublisherSPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering
Publication date2018
Article number106990X
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventSPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray - Austin, United States
Duration: 10 Jun 201815 Jun 2018


ConferenceSPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Sponsor4D Technology Corporation, Andor Technology, Ltd., Astronomical Consultants and Equipment, Inc., Giant Magellan Telescope, SPIE


  • X-ray optics
  • X-ray astronomy
  • Silicon Pore Optics
  • X-ray telescopes
  • X-ray testing
  • Technology preparation
  • Additive manufacturing


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