The 2005 Project


The Science Operations and Data Systems Division of ESA's Research and Scientific Support Department develops and runs astronomy projects in space. These projects involve about 10 years building the instruments and software, that are then followed by several years of use making observations devised by the world's astronomers.

During operations, the emphasis shifts to understanding exactly how well the instruments perform in order to reveal as clearly as possible the physics of the sun and stars, neutron stars or black holes, or galaxies at large within the universe. This involves a range of different types of work such as data analysis, software development, and the design of suitable calibration observations, all of which are done through extensive teamwork both within the division and in external collaboration with international partners.

The XMM-Newton Science Operations Center (XMM-SOC) at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Villafranca del Castillo near Madrid, Spain currently operates three scientific instruments on board XMM-Newton, a satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) observing the hot X-ray universe. Starting from reception of the observer's proposal to the final delivery of the calibrated scientific products to the observer (and in general to the astronomical community), the activities of the SOC comprise all the necessary steps for ensuring high quality and reliable scientific data. This includes day-by-day operations, calibration of the instruments, user support and scientific research.

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Dr. Marcus G. F. Kirsch
XMM-Newton EPIC Calibration Scientist
  Dr. Marcus Kirsch is the calibration scientist of one of the main instruments onboard XMM-Newton: the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC). EPIC operates in the energy range from 0.2-15 keV and provides spatial, energy and timing information of objects in the X-ray sky. The European EPIC Consortium carries out the calibration of the EPIC camera where major calibration development is performed by the University of Leicester (UK) and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany). MK coordinates the EPIC Instrument Dedicated (EPIC-IDT) team at ESAC, that participates in the calibration efforts and transfers all important calibration information into Current Calibration Files (CCF) and/or software products using a major scientific analysis software package, the Scientific Analysis System (SAS), which is needed by observers for optimum scientific exploitation of the XMM-Newton observations performed.

Marcus Kirsch graduated 1999 at the University of Tübingen in Physics and Mathematics with the plan to become a teacher. The evolution went in a different direction and he finished his PhD on XMM-Newton calibration and the Crab pulsar in 2003 meanwhile working for ESA, but still very interested in the education business. His major research interests are high energy instrumentation of satellites as well as pulsars and X-ray binary systems.

If you want to learn more about his research have a look at his bibliography.
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Bruno Altieri
Herschel PACS Calibration Scientist
  Bruno Altieri is an instrument and calibration scientist at the European Space Astronomy Centre. After working on ISO (the Infrared Observatory Satellite) and XMM-Newton, the ESA X-ray observatory, he now works in the the Herschel science operations team preparing the calibration and operations of PACS (Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer), one of the three scientific instrument, of the Herschel Space Observatory, of ESA, to be launched in 2007.

Before moving to Spain, he worked in the Netherlands (ESTEC) and in Chile at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). His major research interests are deep extragalactic multi-wavelength surveys (e.g. the XMM Large Scale Survey), as well as galaxy clusters evolution and gravitational lensing.

If you want to learn more about his research have a look at his bibliography.
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Richard Saxton
XMM-Newton Scientist
  Richard Saxton works for the XMM-Newton project at ESAC as a software developer, calibration scientist and astronomer. His job is to try and make these three aspects of the project integrate seamlessly.

After a brief sojourn in pure software engineering, he became the Starlink X-ray applications programmer at Leicester University in the UK. There he worked with EXOSAT, GINGA and ROSAT before transferring to ESA in the Netherlands (ESTEC) with the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). He moved to Spain to work on XMM in 2003 and is currently pursuing his research interests of AGN, clusters of galaxies and large-scale surveys.

If you want to learn more about his research have a look at his bibliography.