The X-ray mirror group at X-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory researches and develops thin foil X-ray mirrors. These X-ray mirrors use the principle of grazing incidence to reflect and focus X-rays. In contrast to conventional X-ray mirrors , which use polished glass ceramic coated with metal for X-ray reflection, the alternative technique of thin foil mirrors are developed. Thin foils coated with high density metal like gold or iridium are used for X-ray reflections. These reflectors allow dense nesting in a very compact volumen and hence can have enhanced effective collecting area, especially at higher X-ray energies.

The pioneering project BBXRT, the Broad Band X-Ray Telescope, flown on the space shuttle Columbia , first used this technique to image astronomical X-ray sources. A subsequent mission, ASCA (Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics), also used the foil mirrors developed and produced in this laboratory. A set of foil mirrors for the five telescopes for the Japanese-US mission , which was launched in 2005, used thin-foil mirrors with epoxy-replicated gold surfaces. The X-ray telescopes on Suzaku have larger collecting areas and about two times better angular resolution than the ASCA telescopes.

The mirrors for the missions mentioned above are researched and produced at Goddard. A number of facilities in Building 2 on campus are involved in the process. Thin foils are prepared and formed into shape in a Foil Research and Preparation Clean Room . The actual coating of gold and foil replication are done in the Foil Replication Laboratory . Finished foils are assembled and tested optically in the Optical Laboratory , where much optical metrological work for other necessary surfaces are done. Partial or complete quadrants of the telescopes are tested at X-ray energies at the X-Ray Facility, which includes a collimated X-ray beam and an X-ray reflectometer.

The X-ray mirror group is headed by Peter J. Serlemitsos. Research Scientists currently include Yang Soong, Kai W. Chan and Takashi Okajima. Most of the actual mirror production are completed by a team of engineers and technicians. Besides this core team of staff, we got much support from other technical staffs from the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory.

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