Laboratory X-ray CCD camera electronics - a test bed for the Swift X-ray Telescope

J. E. Hill, M. E. Zugger, J. Shoemaker, M. E. Witherite, S. Koch, L. Chou, T. Case, D. N. Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Penn State University Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been active in the design of X-ray CCD cameras for astronomy for over two decades, including sounding rocket systems, the CUBIC instrument on the SAC-B satellite and the ACIS camera on the Chandra satellite. Currently the group is designing and building an X-ray telescope (XRT), which will comprise part of the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer satellite. The Swift satellite, selected in October 1999 as one of two winners of NASA Explorer contracts, will - within one minute - detect, locate, and observe gamma-ray bursts simultaneously in the optical, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths using three co-aligned telescopes. The XRT electronics is required to read out the telescope's CCD sensor in a number of different ways depending on the observing mode selected. Immediately after the satellite re-orientates to observe a newly detected burst, the XRT will enter an imaging mode to determine the exact position of the burst. The location will then be transmitted to the ground, and the XRT will autonomously enter other modes as the X-ray intensity of the burst waxes and wanes. This paper will discuss the electronics for a laboratory X-ray CCD camera, which serves as a test bed for development of the Swift XRT camera. It will also touch upon the preliminary design of the flight camera, which is closely related. A major challenge is achieving performance and reliability goals within the cost constraints of an Explorer mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2000
EventX-Ray and Gamma-Ray Instrumentation for Astronomy XI - San Diego, CA,USA
Duration: Aug 2 2000Aug 4 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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