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X-ray Polarimetry Rocket Instrument Prototyping




MKI: MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

Faculty Supervisor:

Herman Marshall

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Sarah Heine, saraht@mit.edu

Project Description

The polarimetry lab is based in building NE83 and uses an X-ray beamline to test prototype components and configurations of these components. We aim to provide proof of concept for future soft X-ray polarimetry missions (these would be based on a sounding rocket or small satellite). This summer we are planning to assemble a prototype of the rocket instrument inside the beamline using new X-ray optics along and existing components. This will involve handling and assembling delicate hardware in the lab, working with our LabView code to control components and take data, and troubleshooting using both data analysis and alignment tools. We will also test a tool we developed to align all the parts of the instrument. This project will involve working with a UV laser, manipulating table top optics, and utilizing data acquisition and analysis software to evaluate the success of the design.


We are seeking a student interested in astrophysics and instrumentation who is interested in spending most to all of their working time in the lab. Students in our lab are typically course 8 majors, but we have also had successful students from course 2 and 6. Lab experience is a plus, but not necessarily required. Experience with Labview and/or Solidworks is also beneficial but not required.