NASA-ASI IXPE space mission extended for 20 months.

The NASA Program Scientist and NASA Astrophysics Director have signed the extension memo and funding for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite mission, a NASA+ASI, US and Italian, bilateral Small Explorer (SMEX) mission.
The IXPE space mission will be extended by 20 months by NASA, with a General Observer program from 2024 February through 2025 September.
IXPE will be evaluated then at the next NASA Senior Review of Operating Missions, for extension beyond that date.
NASA will release the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for the IXPE Guest Observer (GO) program in the next weeks.
This goal has been obtained thanks to the IXPE international collaboration that has made, the IXPE mission, a successful satellite, both technically and scientifically.
IXPE has explored, up to now, the polarization state of the X-ray photons (2-8 keV energy band) emitted by several classes of compact and astronomical objects with extreme gravitational, electric and magnetic fields.
Beyond the astrophysical results, essential for the positive decision by NASA of the, almost 2-year, extension, these future months could be of interest also for more exotic researches in fundamental physics in a such extreme astrophysical environments, like quantum gravity, birefringence, and indirect axion-like particles searches.
The local INFN Section of Roma Tor Vergata is involved with Stefano Ciprini, Marco Laurenti and Francesco Tombesi, within the INFN XRO experiment label (i.e. eXTP + IXPE satellites with the XRO current local responsible Marco Feroci).
A more general, Italian ASI+INFN press release, could follow for this announcement.

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Rome, June 17, 2021 – Today, the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced new collaboration to expand scientific knowledge around quantum computing within the Italian research community and to identify potential applications in high-energy physics and fundamental physics. As part of this collaboration, AWS is providing access to Amazon Braket quantum computing capabilities for the INFN’s community, which includes associate researchers from up to 26 universities throughout Italy. The collaboration also further confirms AWS’s commitment to powering the Italian education and research communities with the most advanced set of cloud services and through the AWS Europe (Milan) Region launched in April 2020. 

INFN is the Italian research institute dedicated to the study of fundamental particles and interactions; with a long history of science breakthroughs, the institute holds a leadership position in fundamental physics, one of the leading sectors of big science. The research in this frontier field produces a large amount of data that requires efficient and rapid management, and INFN is increasingly committed to quantum technologies and high-performance computing. INFN is the only non-US partner of the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center (SQMS Center), funded by the Department of Energy in the US. INFN also takes part in the EXANEST consortium to support exascale supercomputing to support the coming convergence of high-performance computing and quantum computing. Teaming up with the AWS Quantum Technologies team will help boost INFN’s activity in this new field of research and development.

Thanks to the use of Amazon Braket, INFN’s researchers can leverage quantum computing capabilities without having to set up and manage infrastructure, negotiate access with multiple quantum hardware providers, and write code to integrate different environments. Amazon Braket gives easy access to a variety of quantum computing hardware through a single API (Application Programming Interface), including Rigetti’s superconducting qubit machine, IonQ’s trapped ion machine, and two D-Wave quantum annealers. Scientists are able to access these resources using the open source Amazon Braket SDK (Software Development Kit) in local independent development environments, managed notebooks in AWS, or command line tools.

“Our goal for Amazon Braket is to be a catalyst for innovation across INFN, by giving access to quantum computing technology as it continues to evolve,” said Simone Severini, Director of Quantum Computing, at AWS. “The scientific opportunities opened by quantum computing are vast and we are excited to be pioneering together with INFN and look forward to supporting them in breaking ground in such areas as fundamental physics, education, medical, healthcare and technology”.

“We are delighted to collaborate with AWS in what represents an important element of our global strategy in quantum computing research,” said Marco Pallavicini, member of INFN executive board. “Quantum computing has the potential to further increase our scientific knowledge and will significantly help to tackle important questions in fundamental physics, with potential impact on technology and societal issues. At INFN we are working hard to understand if technologies normally used in particle and fundamental physics may be beneficial for this new promising field”.

This collaboration is supported by AWS quantum computing specialists, and the AWS Cloud Credit for Research program, that enables researchers to build cloud-hosted publicly available science-as-a-service applications, software, or tools to facilitate their future research and the research of their community. It also supports scientists performing proof of concepts or benchmark tests for research workloads and training the broader academic community on the use of cloud for research workloads.

Media contacts

INFN – eleonora Cossi – eleonora.cossi@presid.infn.it 

AWS – Valentina Grasso – valentina.grasso@archetype.co