PANTER X-Ray Test Facility

PANTER X-Ray Test Facility

The PANTER X-ray test facility is located in Neuried on the southwest outskirts of Munich.  The aerial photograph shows the 130-m-long vacuum tube (Ø1 m), with the X-ray source system at one end and the main test chamber (12-m-long and Ø3.5 m) at the other end.  Globally, it is superseded only in size by the NASA X-ray test facility in Huntsville, AL, USA.

The PANTER X-ray test facility is used primarily for characterisation of X-ray telescopes.  Imaging properties, reflectivity, and scattering can be studied on single shells, as well as on nested mirror systems or complete telescopes.  In addition, a huge number of detectors, focal plane instruments, transmission and reflection gratings, and X-ray absorption filters have been tested and developed at PANTER.

PANTER was originally built to support the ROSAT telescope development.  Since then a large number of projects have made use of the facility, including EXOSAT, BeppoSAX, JET-X, ABRIXAS, XMM-Newton, Swift, Suzaku, HXMT-Insight, eROSITA.  Alongside the optics, the cameras and detectors for these telescopes, as well as filters and gratings (e.g. LETG on Chandra, RGS on XMM-Newton), have been tested and calibrated at PANTER.  Tests of critical angle transmission and off-plane reflection gratings for future missions, such as Arcus, are ongoing.

The development, testing, and calibration of the eight eROSITA mirror assemblies (seven flight + one spare) was completed in May 2016, prior to integration into the telescope structure.  In autumn 2016, the eROSITA telescope end-to-end test (thermal, electronic) was performed successfully at PANTER, prior to integration into the Russian/German mission "Spectr Rentgen Gamma", together with the Russian telescope, ART-XC. A ground-based calibration of the ART-XC flight-spare mirror and detector took place at PANTER in autumn 2018.

The development, testing, and calibration of the optics for future missions, such as ATHENA, SVOM, and Einstein Probe, is ongoing at PANTER.

PANTER also has a smaller vacuum chamber, which is used for thermal cycling and thermal vacuum tests of X-ray flight instrumentation.  Spacecraft subsystem tests have been carried out in this chamber; it was used intensively for the XMM-Newton and eROSITA projects.

The completed eROSITA telescope entering the large PANTER vacuum chamber for the end-to-end test in September 2016

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