Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics

​​​​Athena has been conceived as a powerful X-ray observatory with an unprecedented combination of collecting area, survey capabilities and energy resolution. It will be operated as an open observatory. The majority of the observing time will be allocated through peer-reviewed proposals open to the whole astronomical community worldwide.

At the June 2014 meeting of ESA Science Programme Committe, Athena was selected as the mission for the 2nd Large mission opportunity. While Athena was selected to address the Cosmic Vision theme of the "Hot and Energetic Universe", it is posed to have a transformational impact on most areas of modern astrophysics. Its performance well matches those of large ground-based and space-borne observational facilities to be operational in the decade of the 2030s. Athena shall also provide a key contribution to multi-messenger astrophysics, in synergy with gravitational wave arrays and neutrino telescopes.

​​​​After 8 years of Phase A and Phase B1, the meeting of the ESA Science Program Commitee in June 2022 deliberated that Athena will not be adopted, because the estimated Cost-at-Completion to ESA exceeds the budget allocated for an L-class mission. The mission is therefore undergoing a design-to-cost exercise, aiming at defining a profile consistent with a strict cost cap while preserving its flagship nature.

Links on the left provide:

  • More details on the mission as proposed by the high-energy astrophysics community,
  • Links to the ESA Study Team, the Science Redefinition Team and their activities,
  • Information for scientists interested in the scientific performance of the mission (with links to tools for simulations whenever appropriate).

 For more information on the Athena science and scientific community, we encourage visiting the site of the Athena Community Office.

CDF sketch of Athena in-orbit