First operation of transition-edge sensors in space with the Micro-X sounding rocket

Joseph S. Adams, Robert Baker, Simon R. Bandler, Noëmie Bastidon, Meredith E. Danowski, William B. Doriese, Megan E. Eckart, Enectalí Figueroa-Feliciano, Joshua Fuhrman, David C. Goldfinger, Sarah N.T. Heine, Gene C. Hilton, Antonia J.F. Hubbard*, Daniel Jardin, Richard L. Kelley, Caroline A. Kilbourne, Renée E. Manzagol-Harwood, Dan McCammon, Takashi Okajima, Frederick S. PorterCarl D. Reintsema, Peter Serlemitsos, Stephen J. Smith, Patrick Wikus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


With its first flight in 2018, Micro-X became the first program to fly Transition-Edge Sensors and their SQUID readouts in space. The science goal was a high-resolution, spatially resolved X-ray spectrum of the Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant. While a rocket pointing error led to no time on target, the data was used to demonstrate the flight performance of the instrument. The detectors observed X-rays from the on-board calibration source, but a susceptibility to external magnetic fields limited their livetime. Accounting for this, no change was observed in detector response between ground operation and flight operation. This paper provides an overview of the first flight performance and focuses on the upgrades made in preparation for reflight. The largest changes have been upgrading the SQUIDs to mitigate magnetic susceptibility, synchronizing the clocks on the digital electronics to minimize beat frequencies, and replacing the mounts between the cryostat and the rocket skin to improve mechanical integrity. As the first flight performance was consistent with performance on the ground, reaching the instrument goals in the laboratory is considered a strong predictor of future flight performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationX-Ray, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy IX
EditorsAndrew D. Holland, James Beletic
ISBN (Electronic)9781510636958
StatePublished - 2020
EventX-Ray, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy IX 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Dec 14 2020Dec 22 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceX-Ray, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy IX 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online


  • Microcalorimeter
  • Sounding rocket
  • Transition-edge sensor
  • X-ray spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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