ESA's ATHENA, the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics, currently slated to launch in the early 2030's, was selected in 2014 to be ESA’s second large (L2) mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision program, addressing major questions associated with the science theme "The Hot and Energetic Universe":
- How and why does ordinary matter assemble into the galaxies and galaxy clusters that we see today?
- How do black holes grow and influence their surroundings?
NASA's contributions to ATHENA currently consist of hardware for the X-IFU sensor, a vibration isolation system for use during launch, X-ray mirror testing and calibration at the MSFC XRCF facility, and ASIC design and background characterization for the WFI. NASA will also be establishing a NASA ATHENA Science Center and will be contributing to the ATHENA Science Ground Segment (SGS).
NASA expects to formally establish ATHENA as a project sometime in 2021 / 2022. Formal ESA mission adoption is expected in 2022.