The protoMIRAX hard X-ray imaging balloon experiment
National Institute of Space Research – INPE, Av. dos Astronautas 1758, 12227–010 São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil
Received: 17 April 2015
Accepted: 22 May 2015
Context. The protoMIRAX hard X-ray imaging telescope is a balloon-borne experiment developed as a pathfinder for the MIRAX satellite mission. The experiment consists essentially in a coded-aperture hard X-ray (30–200 keV) imager with a square array (13 × 13) of 2 mm-thick planar CZT detectors with a total area of 169 cm2. The total, fully-coded field-of-view is 21° × 21° and the angular resolution is 1°43′.
Aims. The main objective of protoMIRAX is to carry out imaging spectroscopy of selected bright sources to demonstrate the performance of a prototype of the MIRAX hard X-ray imager. In this paper we describe the protoMIRAX instrument and all the subsystems of its balloon gondola, and we show simulated results of the instrument performance.
Methods. Detailed background and imaging simulations were performed for protoMIRAX balloon flights. The 3σ sensitivity for the 30–200 keV range is ~1.9 × 10-5 photons cm-2 s-1 for an integration time of 8 h at an atmospheric depth of 2.7 g cm-2 and an average zenith angle of 30°. We developed an attitude-control system for the balloon gondola and new data handling and ground systems that also include prototypes for the MIRAX satellite.
Results. We present the results of Monte Carlo simulations of the camera response at balloon altitudes, showing the expected background level and the detailed sensitivity of protoMIRAX. We also present the results of imaging simulations of the Crab region.
Conclusions. The results show that protoMIRAX is capable of making spectral and imaging observations of bright hard X-ray source fields. Furthermore, the balloon observations will carry out very important tests and demonstrations of MIRAX hardware and software in a near space environment.
Key words: stars: black holes / balloons / instrumentation: detectors / methods: laboratory: solid state / telescopes / space vehicles: instruments
© ESO, 2015