An artistic view of the Athena X-ray observatory

Athena Status

    The fate of the Athena mission was at the core of the ESA Science Program Committee (SPC)  Workshop held on June 9 2022. The SPC discussed a proposal by ESA aiming at addressing a financial shortfall of the Science Programme, which foresaw the “suspension” of the Athena Study.

    Athena is still on the landscape of the ESA Science Programme. The overwhelming response to the public call for support contributed to this result. 

    More specifically, the SPC agreed that:

    • Athena will not be adopted in June 2023 at the latest cost estimates to ESA (1.9 G€);
    • Athena will undergo a “design-to-cost” activity, aiming at a significant reduction of its costs to ESA to ensure that the total cost of both the Large-class missions (Athena and LISA) remains under a 2.6B€ cap, with no predefined split of the budget assigned to each mission;
    • The process to undertake the Athena design-to-cost will be defined in an ESA “action plan” paper to be published in about 2 weeks. The process should preserve the mission high-resolution spectroscopy capabilities;
    • In early 2023, the SPC shall decide on which of the L-class missions will be the first to be adopted, depending on their technical and programmatic (i.e., cost) maturity.