XMM-Newton (X-Ray Multi Mirror Observatory) carries three very advanced X-ray telescopes. They each contain 58 high-precision concentric mirrors, delicately nested to offer the largest collecting area possible to catch the elusive X-rays. These Mirror Modules allow XMM-Newton to detect millions of sources, far greater than any previous X-ray mission.
The spacecraft consists of main sections:
This 'tri-clops', with its golden eyes is more than 10 meters long, just fitting under the Ariane-5 fairing for its launch. Its pair of solar panels have a 16 meter span.
The spacecraft's design features extremely high mechanical stability. Its position and control systems allow it to point at targets in the sky over long periods with a remarkable pointing accuracy of 0.25 arcsec over a ten second interval.
X-rays can only be focused by changing their course accomplished by bouncing them off a surface at a shallow angle. XMM-Newton uses barrel-shaped mirrors angled along their length to focus them on the detectors. The three 'mirror modules' each have 58 wafer-thin nickel mirrors, which are gold-plated and nested in each other just a few millimeters apart. The total mirror surface area exceeds 120 m², larger than a tennis court. Constructing the mirror modules to such a level of perfection is one of the programme's greatest achievements.
XMM-Newton also carries an 'Optical Monitor' which will observe in the visible and ultraviolet the same region of the sky as the targeted X-ray sources.
The science instruments are:
|Type / Application:||Astronomy, X-Ray|
|Contractors:||Daimler Chrysler Aerospace Dornier Satellitensysteme|
|Equipment:||3 Wolter telescopes, 30-cm aperture Ritchey-Chretien telescope, EPIC, RGS, OM, ERMS|
|Power:||2 deployable solar arrays, batteries|
|Lifetime:||2 years (design); still active|
|Orbit:||7417 km × 113678 km, 38.8°|