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SRON-JAXA agreement on Space Science

On October 28th, 2009, SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (represented by its General Director, Dr. Gathier) and Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA, represented by its Executive Director for Space Science, Dr. Onoda) have signed a cooperative framework agreement with the aim of promoting joint activities in the field of space science, in the presence of Dr. De Heer, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Japan and Dr. Tachikawa, the President of JAXA. And the Implementing Arrangement for collaboration on ASTRO-H (International X-ray astronomy mission) was concluded on the same day, as a first step. SRON and JAXA have a long history of joint activities through their researchers, and with this formal framework, SRON and JAXA will promote a long standing and mutually beneficial collaboration between Dutch and Japanese researchers in the field space science.

(* Note) Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON): Leading research institute in the field of astrophysical research, Earth science and planetary research in the Netherlands. Through ASTRO-H mission, SRON will take part in development of instrument to be integrated into the onboard detector and participate in scientific research. SRON is also leading the preparatory activities for the European instrument SAFARI proposed for the JAXA’s future infrared astronomical observatory mission, SPICA.

Reference: ASTRO-H mission overview and SRON’s contribution

October 28, 2009
ASTRO-H project team


ASTRO-H is the ISAS-led X-ray astronomy mission, which is planned to be launched in JFY 2013. The main scientific objectives include “revealing the large-scale structure in its evolution of the Universe,E“understanding the extreme conditions in the Universe,E“exploring the diverse phenomena of the non-thermal energy,Eand “elucidating the dark matter and energyE Four different detectors will be installed to support the mission.
We are happy to announce that SRON (Netherlands Institute for Space Research ) will be participating in the ASTRO-H mission.
One of the detectors, the Soft X-ray Spectrometer system (SXS), the first X-ray micro-calorimeter in orbit, will enable us to detect Cosmic plasma motions with 300 km/s accuracy by the precise measurement of the energy of X-ray photons. To reach this performance in observing bright X-rays sources, we must keep the X-ray photon flux low.


5 filters will be mounted on the filter wheel, and selected according to the X-ray source intensity.

SRON, together with University of Geneva, will provide filters, which will control X-ray flux during observing bright X-rays sources, and a "filter wheel" that selects an appropriate filter (See the figure, left). This instrument will be located between the X-ray telescope and the SXS sensor, which enables ASTRO-H to achieve the proper performance as with the spectroscopy. The filters will enable scientists to study the space-time structure in the close vicinity of black holes. The filter wheel will carry calibration X-ray sources to monitor the X-ray energy determination accuracy of the detectors.

The Netherlands and Japan have developed the relationship over a long time from the dawn of X-ray astronomy. As we work together based on our own strengths and experiences in the development and operation of the ASTRO-H mission, we will produce fruitful scientific results.

October 28, 2009