XMM-Newton Status Report - October 2003
13 October 2003 10:44XMM-Newton operations continue to run smoothly. The autumn 2003 eclipse season went by without any problems. An effort is being made to model the satellite's radiation environment with the goals of achieving a higher fraction of successful observations, and of slightly increasing the amount of available science time.
The work on upgrading the overall ground segment to SCOS-2000 is running on schedule. An updated phasing of the first SOC (Science Operations Centre) release has been agreed in order to allow for better integration with the MOC (Mission Operations Centre) releases. The upgrade is still expected to be finished towards end-2004.
Operations and archiving
The programme completion status is as follows (as of 01.10.03):
Completion of these observing programmes including AO-3 is expected by early 2005. The status of data processing and data shipment is nominal. Currently, over 2800 observation sequences have been executed and the data for more than 2700 of these has been shipped.
The deadline for proposal submission for the XMM-Newton AO-3 programme was 30 April 2003. A total of 692 valid proposals were received from 468 different Principal Investigators in 24 countries. These proposals requested a total of 98833 ksec of science time, some 10% more than was requested in AO-2. The evaluation process involved 70 scientists from 16 countries. The TAC was organized into 14 panels addressing 6 scientific areas, with each panel consisting of 5 members. In addition to merging individual panel results, resolving cases of duplication and addressing the overall scientific balance, the meeting of the Panel Chairs also reviewed and selected the ihLarge Programmeslr, for which there was a tenfold oversubscription. In all, 948 observations were selected for A0-3. Following approval of the recommended observing programme by the Director of Science, proposers were notified of the results in early July, thereby completing the process in record time. AO-4 is currently foreseen for release in September 2004.
The XMM-Newton users group met on 22/23 September 2003 at VILSPA. The group was very happy both with the way the mission is being run and, specifically, with the AO-3 process. The next meeting of the users group will be on 2-3 June 2004.
A paper was published in Nature (12 June 2003) where the first direct measurement of a neutron star's magnetic field was reported. This measurement was enabled by the discovery of cyclotron resonant absorption dips in the X-ray spectrum of the source. A paper was published in Science, which reported the discovery of X-ray emission from a shockwave caused by Geminga's motion through space.
Some 372 papers based on XMM-Newton observations have been published in the refereed literature by end-September 2003.