ORIGIN is a proposal for the M3 mission call of ESA aimed at the study of metal creation from the epoch of cosmic dawn. Using high-spectral resolution in the soft X-ray band, ORIGIN will be able to identify the physical conditions of all abundant elements between C and Ni to red-shifts of z = 10, and beyond. The mission will answer questions such as: When were the first metals created? How does the cosmic metal content evolve? Where do most of the metals reside in the Universe? What is the role of metals in structure formation and evolution? To reach out to the early Universe ORIGIN will use Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) to study their local environments in their host galaxies. This requires the capability to slew the satellite in less than a minute to the GRB location. By studying the chemical composition and properties of clusters of galaxies we can extend the range of exploration to lower redshifts (z ~0. 2). For this task we need a high-resolution spectral imaging instrument with a large field of view. Using the same instrument, we can also study the so far only partially detected baryons in the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM). The less dense part of the WHIM will be studied using absorption lines at low redshift in the spectra for GRBs. The ORIGIN mission includes a Transient Event Detector (coded mask with a sensitivity of 0. 4 photon/cm /s in 10 s in the 5-150 keV band) to identify and localize 2000 GRBs over a five year mission, of which ~65 GRBs have a redshift >7. The Cryogenic Imaging Spectrometer, with a spectral resolution of 2. 5 eV, a field of view of 30 arcmin and large effective area below 1 keV has the sensitivity to study clusters up to a significant fraction of the virial radius and to map the denser parts of the WHIM (factor 30 higher than achievable with current instruments). The payload is complemented by a Burst InfraRed Telescope to enable onboard red-shift determination of GRBs (hence securing proper follow up of high-z bursts) and also probes the mildly ionized state of the gas. Fast repointing is achieved by a dedicated Controlled Momentum Gyro and a low background is achieved by the selected low Earth orbit. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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