Summer School Alpbach 'Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology from Space'
2 August 2000What do Students see as Next Projects in Space Astronomy?56 students from among the member states of the European Space Agency were attending the Summer School from 18-27 July in the small mountain village of Alpbach in Tyrol. The Summer School participants were set the task of defining future X-ray and gamma ray as well as infrared missions.
As part of the curriculum 25 European experts provided them with an overview on the evolution of the Universe, including aspects of black holes, supernovae and the cosmic microwave background. One of the most eminent cosmologists, Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and Professor at the University of Cambridge, presented this year's key-note lecture on "Cosmology and Dark Matter". The students also learned about the scientific instruments that are used in space astronomy as well as some of the engineering and operations tools with which space missions are designed. The scientific aims and technological challenges of the missions of the European Space Agency (like the recently launched giant X-ray telescope XMM- Newton, the International Gamma Ray Laboratory INTEGRAL to be launched in 2002, and some later missions looking at the cold Universe, i.e. FIRST and PlANCK) were presented. Throughout the two weeks, the students participated in a series of workshops, teaching them the basic skills necessary to become Europe's future space mission designers. The students came up with their own ideas for scientific space missions.The work culminated in the design of two infrared and two X-ray astrophysics space missions.
SNOOPY (Submm N Observation Of Polarimetry) is an all-sky survey infrared astrophysics mission, designed to fit into the framework of an ESA flexi-mission. The mission demonstrates how to achieve optimal science return for minimum cost using space technology already developed for existing space missions. The mission's key objective is to understand the Inter Stellar Matter (ISM) structure and to detect galactic magnetic field lines by measuring polarization effects in the infrared band of the spectrum.
Mi-3 (Mission Interferometer with 3 baselines) is an ambitious L-2 orbiting, infrared interferometry mission consisting of a total of four spacecraft, carrying as payloads three telescopes and the beam combiner optics. The mission provides high angular resolution and high resolution spectroscopy for imaging active and merging galaxies, as well as galactic and extragalactic star-formation processes to improve the understanding of the physics of accreting systems throughout the history of the universe.
In.XS is the name of an all-sky survey space mission in the X-ray band (2-80 keV) to detect obscured Active Galactic Nuclei and to measure the X-ray background radiation. It uses innovative X-ray multiplayer optics, which is currently under development at ESA.
ASTeRIX (Alpbach Summerschool Telescope Realizing Interferometry X-rays) is an X-ray interferometry mission using a revolutionary X-ray optics concept, developed at the Summer School Alpbach, which will provide milli-arcsecond resolution capabilities. In combination with a second spacecraft, micro-arcsecond resolution can be achieved. The mission would be launched into L-2 by an Ariane 5.
The missions were presented to a distinguished review panel on the last day of the Summer School, including Roger Bonnet, the Director of Science Programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Bo Andersen, the Chairman of the Science Programme Committee of ESA, who both congratulated the students on their achievements. The review panel was impressed by the students'w accomplishments and suggested publication of the results, especially the innovative ASTerRIX X-ray optics concept, in a forthcoming issue of the ESA Bulletin.
The annual Summer School Alpbach is organised by the Austrian Space Agency together with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, the European Space Agency and the national space authorities of its member states.
For additional information please contact:
Austrian Space Agency
Tel. 43+1+403 81 77/12, Fax 43+1+405 82 28, e-mail: mgitschasaspace.at