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.