Session

Session III: Mission Payload

SSC09-III-4.pdf (1924 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS) mission will be the first mission to use x-ray polarimetry to characterize the geometry and behavior of x-ray sources, including supermassive black holes and magnetars. Although such astrophysics missions usually require a “large” spacecraft, recent advances in technology allow a smaller spacecraft to conduct significant science in this exciting field. By focusing on the polarization of x-rays, GEMS will enable scientists for the first time to answer some of the most exciting questions in astrophysics. Polarization has the potential to resolve conflicting estimates of black hole spin, reveal how energy is released in this environment, and probe the physics behind strong magnetic fields.GEMS is made possible by recent breakthroughs in several key technologies. Advances in gas detector technology have enabled exploitation of photoelectric polarimetry, without sacrificing sensitivity. Light-weight mirrors are constructed of especially treated aluminum foils. A deployable boom provides the appropriate separation between the detectors and the mirrors. GEMS has three telescopes on one spacecraft increasing the effective collection area compared to one large telescope. It is the small dimensions and mass of the telescopes and the deployable boom that permits the mounting of three telescopes and vehicle rotation, while retaining a small overall observatory size. Supporting the instrument is the LEOStar 2/750 spacecraft bus.

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Aug 11th, 9:30 AM

Big Astrophysics in a Small Package The Gravity & Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS) Mission

The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS) mission will be the first mission to use x-ray polarimetry to characterize the geometry and behavior of x-ray sources, including supermassive black holes and magnetars. Although such astrophysics missions usually require a “large” spacecraft, recent advances in technology allow a smaller spacecraft to conduct significant science in this exciting field. By focusing on the polarization of x-rays, GEMS will enable scientists for the first time to answer some of the most exciting questions in astrophysics. Polarization has the potential to resolve conflicting estimates of black hole spin, reveal how energy is released in this environment, and probe the physics behind strong magnetic fields.GEMS is made possible by recent breakthroughs in several key technologies. Advances in gas detector technology have enabled exploitation of photoelectric polarimetry, without sacrificing sensitivity. Light-weight mirrors are constructed of especially treated aluminum foils. A deployable boom provides the appropriate separation between the detectors and the mirrors. GEMS has three telescopes on one spacecraft increasing the effective collection area compared to one large telescope. It is the small dimensions and mass of the telescopes and the deployable boom that permits the mounting of three telescopes and vehicle rotation, while retaining a small overall observatory size. Supporting the instrument is the LEOStar 2/750 spacecraft bus.