Art of Technology was awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the design, development, production and supply of the Detector Electronics Module (DEM) used in the STIX instrument, a Swiss experiment, funded by the Swiss Space Office and one of ten instruments on-board the Solar Orbiter.
Launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on 10th February 2020, Solar Orbiter will travel to within 45 million km of the Sun (¼ of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, closer than any other spacecraft to date allowing a portion of the surface to be observed for longer periods of time without interruption. The Solar Orbiter mission will address the central questions of helio-physics, i.e. how does the Sun create and control the heliosphere?
Developed and built under the leadership of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern (FHNW), the STIX instrument will provide observations of the sun with unprecedented sharpness and direct measurements of solar winds and charged particles close to their point of origin. The new orbit will allow study of the far side of the Sun that cannot be seen from Earth… and for the first time, the polar regions.
STIX will contribute to understanding the mechanisms behind the acceleration of electrons at the Sun and their transport into the interplanetary space. STIX will also play a key role in linking remote-sensing and in-situ observations on Solar Orbiter with imaging spectroscopy of solar thermal and non-thermal X-ray emissions providing quantitative information on the timing, location, intensity and spectra of accelerated electrons as well as of high temperature thermal plasmas, which are mostly associated with flares or micro-flares in the solar corona and chromosphere.
The STIX instrument is divided into three subsystems operating in two different thermal environments: Feedthrough with two X-ray windows, Grids with aspect system and the Detector Electronics Module (DEM). The Grids and DEM are located inside the spacecraft, while the feedthrough is surrounded by the heat-shield and one of the windows is directly exposed to the Sun. The spacecraft interior temperature is kept at +50°C and -20°C in hot and cold operational modes respectively, while the CdTe detectors located inside the DEM are kept at around -20°C by a cold element provided by the spacecraft.