A LOFTy prospect
Last month I had a flying visit to Amsterdam to attend the first science meeting dedicated to ESA's proposed Large Observatory for X-ray Timing (LOFT) mission. This concept has been chosen for the assessment phase of ESA's M3 "Cosmic Vision" call, and will compete with three other missions for a launch from 2020 onwards. With effective area approximately 20x that of the previous timing mission, NASA's RXTE, LOFT would provide stunning new observations of rapidly rotating neutron stars and black holes, sufficient to precisely measure neutron-star mass and radii, and also probe the spacetime close to black holes. The mission assessment is being led by researchers at MSSL (UK) and DTU Space (Denmark). I'll be contributing to the general science working group, as well as the group focussed on dense matter.
Thermonuclear burst spectroscopy with LOFT (9.4 MB Power Point)