The Origins Space Telescope will trace the history of our origins from the time dust and heavy elements permanently altered the cosmic landscape to present-day life. How did galaxies evolve from the earliest galactic systems to those found in the universe today? How do habitable planets form? How common are life-bearing worlds? To answer these alluring questions, Origins will operate at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths and offer powerful spectroscopic instruments and sensitivity three orders of magnitude better than that of Herschel, the largest telescope flown in space to date. After a 3 ½ year study, the Origins Science and Technology Definition Team will recommend to the Decadal Survey a concept for Origins with a 5.9-m diameter telescope cryocooled to 4.5 K and equipped with three scientific instruments. A mid-infrared instrument (MISC-T) will measure the spectra of transiting exoplanets in the 2.8 – 20 μm wavelength range and offer unprecedented sensitivity, enabling definitive biosignature detections. The Far-IR Imager Polarimeter (FIP) will be able to survey thousands of square degrees with broadband imaging at 50 and 250 μm. The Origins Survey Spectrometer (OSS) will cover wavelengths from 25 – 588 μm, make wide-area and deep spectroscopic surveys with spectral resolving power R ~ 300, and pointed observations at R ~ 40,000 and 300,000 with selectable instrument modes. Origins was designed to minimize complexity. The telescope has a Spitzer-like architecture and requires very few deployments after launch. The cryo-thermal system design leverages JWST technology and experience. A combination of current-state-of-the-art cryocoolers and next-generation detector technology will enable Origins’ natural backgroundlimited sensitivity.
The Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins (PICO) is a probe-class mission concept currently under study by NASA. PICO will probe the physics of the Big Bang and the energy scale of inflation, constrain the sum of neutrino masses, measure the growth of structures in the universe, and constrain its reionization history by making full sky maps of the cosmic microwave background with sensitivity 80 times higher than the Planck space mission. With bands at 21-799 GHz and arcmin resolution at the highest frequencies, PICO will make polarization maps of Galactic synchrotron and dust emission to observe the role of magnetic fields in Milky Way's evolution and star formation. We discuss PICO's optical system, focal plane, and give current best case noise estimates. The optical design is a two-reflector optimized open-Dragone design with a cold aperture stop. It gives a diffraction limited field of view (DLFOV) with throughput of 910 cm2sr at 21 GHz. The large 82 square degree DLFOV hosts 12,996 transition edge sensor bolometers distributed in 21 frequency bands and maintained at 0.1 K. We use focal plane technologies that are currently implemented on operating CMB instruments including three-color multi-chroic pixels and multiplexed readouts. To our knowledge, this is the first use of an open-Dragone design for mm-wave astrophysical observations, and the only monolithic CMB instrument to have such a broad frequency coverage. With current best case estimate polarization depth of 0.65 µKCMB-arcmin over the entire sky, PICO is the most sensitive CMB instrument designed to date.
The demanding science goals of future astrophysics missions currently under study for the 2020 Decadal Survey impose significant technological requirements on their associated telescopes. These concepts currently call for apertures as large as 15 m (LUVOIR), and operational temperatures as low as 4 Kelvin (OST). Advanced mirror technologies, such as those implementing a high degree of actuation at the primary, can help to overcome the challenges associated with these missions by providing in-situ wavefront correction capabilities. Active mirrors can also greatly reduce the cost/complexity associated with mirror fabrication as well as system I and T as on-orbit performance specifications can be achieved under a variety of test conditions (i.e. room/cryogenic temperatures, 0g/1g). JPL has significant experience in this area for visible/near-infrared applications, however future mission requirements create a new set of challenges for this technology. This paper presents design, analysis, and test results for lightweight silicon-carbide mirrors with integrated actuation capabilities. In particular, studies have been performed to test the performance of these mirrors at cryogenic temperatures.
The Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins (PICO) is a NASA-funded study of a Probe-class mission concept. The toplevel science objectives are to probe the physics of the Big Bang by measuring or constraining the energy scale of inflation, probe fundamental physics by measuring the number of light particles in the Universe and the sum of neutrino masses, to measure the reionization history of the Universe, and to understand the mechanisms driving the cosmic star formation history, and the physics of the galactic magnetic field. PICO would have multiple frequency bands between 21 and 799 GHz, and would survey the entire sky, producing maps of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation, of galactic dust, of synchrotron radiation, and of various populations of point sources. Several instrument configurations, optical systems, cooling architectures, and detector and readout technologies have been and continue to be considered in the development of the mission concept. We will present a snapshot of the baseline mission concept currently under development.
We discuss the design and expected performance of STRIP (STRatospheric Italian Polarimeter), an array of coherent receivers designed to fly on board the LSPE (Large Scale Polarization Explorer) balloon experiment. The STRIP focal plane array comprises 49 elements in Q band and 7 elements in W-band using cryogenic HEMT low noise amplifiers and high performance waveguide components. In operation, the array will be cooled to 20 K and placed in the focal plane of a ~0.6 meter telescope providing an angular resolution of ~1.5 degrees. The LSPE experiment aims at large scale, high sensitivity measurements of CMB polarization, with multi-frequency deep measurements to optimize component separation. The STRIP Q-band channel is crucial to accurately measure and remove the synchrotron polarized component, while the W-band channel, together with a bolometric channel at the same frequency, provides a crucial cross-check for systematic effects.
The Experimental Probe of Inflationary Cosmology - Intermediate Mission (EPIC-IM) is a concept for the NASA
Einstein Inflation Probe satellite. EPIC-IM is designed to characterize the polarization properties of the Cosmic
Microwave Background to search for the B-mode polarization signal characteristic of gravitational waves generated
during the epoch of Inflation in the early universe. EPIC-IM employs a large focal plane with 11,000 detectors operating
in 9 wavelength bands to provide 30 times higher sensitivity than the currently operating Planck satellite. The optical
design is based on a wide-field 1.4 m crossed-Dragone telescope, an aperture that allows not only comprehensive
measurements of Inflationary B-mode polarization, but also measurements of the E-mode and lensing polarization
signals to cosmological limits, as well as all-sky maps of Galactic polarization with unmatched sensitivity and angular
resolution. The optics are critical to measuring these extremely faint polarization signals, and any design must meet
demanding requirements on systematic error control. We describe the EPIC-IM crossed Dragone optical design, its
polarization properties, and far-sidelobe response.
Dark matter in a universe dominated by a cosmological constant seeds the formation of structure and is the scaffolding
for galaxy formation. The nature of dark matter remains one of the fundamental unsolved problems in astrophysics and
physics even though it represents 85% of the mass in the universe, and nearly one quarter of its total mass-energy
budget. The mass function of dark matter "substructure" on sub-galactic scales may be enormously sensitive to the mass
and properties of the dark matter particle. On astrophysical scales, especially at cosmological distances, dark matter
substructure may only be detected through its gravitational influence on light from distant varying sources. Specifically,
these are largely active galactic nuclei (AGN), which are accreting super-massive black holes in the centers of galaxies,
some of the most extreme objects ever found. With enough measurements of the flux from AGN at different
wavelengths, and their variability over time, the detailed structure around AGN, and even the mass of the super-massive
black hole can be measured. The Observatory for Multi-Epoch Gravitational Lens Astrophysics (OMEGA) is a mission
concept for a 1.5-m near-UV through near-IR space observatory that will be dedicated to frequent imaging and
spectroscopic monitoring of ~100 multiply-imaged active galactic nuclei over the whole sky. Using wavelength-tailored
dichroics with extremely high transmittance, efficient imaging in six channels will be done simultaneously during each
visit to each target. The separate spectroscopic mode, engaged through a flip-in mirror, uses an image slicer
spectrograph. After a period of many visits to all targets, the resulting multidimensional movies can then be analyzed to
a) measure the mass function of dark matter substructure; b) measure precise masses of the accreting black holes as well
as the structure of their accretion disks and their environments over several decades of physical scale; and c) measure a
combination of Hubble's local expansion constant and cosmological distances to unprecedented precision. We present
the novel OMEGA instrumentation suite, and how its integrated design is ideal for opening the time domain of known
cosmologically-distant variable sources, to achieve the stated scientific goals.
The Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) is one of three science instruments on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The IRS comprises four separate spectrograph modules covering the wavelength range from 5.3 to 38 μm with spectral resolutions, R~90 and 650, and it was optimized to take full advantage of the very low background in the space environment. The IRS is performing at or better than the pre-launch predictions. An autonomous target acquisition capability enables the IRS to locate the mid-infrared centroid of a source, providing the information so that the spacecraft can accurately offset that centroid to a selected slit. This feature is particularly useful when taking spectra of sources with poorly known coordinates. An automated data reduction pipeline has been developed at the Spitzer Science Center.
The instruments of the Spitzer Space Telescope are cooled directly by liquid helium, while the optical system is cooled by helium vapor. The greater the power dissipation into the liquid helium, the more vapor is produced, and the colder the telescope. Observations at shorter wavelengths do not require telescope temperatures as low as those required at longer wavelengths. By varying the telescope temperature with observing wavelength, we are extending the mission lifetime by an estimated 9%.
SAFIR is a large (10 m-class), cold (4-10 K) space telescope for wavelengths between 20 microns and 1 mm. It will provide sensitivity a factor of a hundred or more greater than that of Spitzer and Herschel, leveraging their capabilities and building on their scientific legacies. Covering this scientifically critical wavelength regime, it will complement the expected wavelength performance of the future flagship endeavors JWST and ALMA. This vision mission will probe the origin of stars and galaxies in the early universe, and explore the formation of solar systems around nearby young stars. Endorsed as a priority by the Decadal Study and successive OSS roadmaps, SAFIR represents a huge science need that is matched by promising and innovative technologies that will allow us to satisfy it. In exercising those technologies it will create the path for future infrared missions. This paper reviews the scientific goals of the mission and promising approaches for its architecture, and considers remaining technological hurdles. We review how SAFIR responds to the scientific challenges in the OSS Strategic Plan, and how the observatory can be brought within technological reach.
A breakthrough in the packaging of cryogenic millimeterwave circuits enables mass production of radiometer or polarimeter array elements, leading to low cost, high performance, and straightforward scaling to arbitrarily large arrays. The Q/U Imaging ExperimenT (QUIET) will measure the polarization of the cosmic microvave background from the ground using such large arrays of coherent polarimeters. With two different optical systems, angular scales from ten degrees to 4' can be covered.
The instruments of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) are cooled directly by liquid helium, while the optical system is cooled by helium vapor. The greater the power dissipation into the liquid helium, the more vapor is produced, and the colder the telescope. Observations at shorter wavelengths do not require telescope temperatures as low as those required at shorter wavelengths. By taking advantage of this, it may be possible to extend the helium and mission lifetime by 10% or even 20%
Planck, scheduled for launch in 2007, will be the third space mission to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Two cryogenic instruments and an off-axis telescope will provide an unprecedented combination of sensitivity, angular resolution, and frequency coverage. Planck is designed to measure the temperature anisotropies of the CMB to limits set not by the instruments, but rather by the Universe itself. In addition, it will measure the E-type polarization of the CMB, and provide all-sky surveys at nine frequencies between 30 and 857 GHz.
We discuss concepts for deploying direct-detection interferometers in space which are optimized for the wavelength range 40 micrometers to 500 micrometers . In particular, we introduce two missions in NASA's current strategic plan: SPIRIT (SPace InfraRed Interferometric Telescope) and SPECS (Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure).
We have developed an ultra-low noise 94 GHz MMIC amplifier using InGaAs/InAlAs/InP transistor technology. The MMIC designs incorporate a single transistor stage with input and output matching networks as well as gate and drain bias networks. Two MMICs have been incorporated into a single housing providing 10 dB of gain. At room temperature, the integrated amplifier has a measured noise of 365 K at 94 GHz. Cryogenic measurements have been performed using a direct detection total power radiometer with all amplification provided by MMIC amplifiers. The noise figure for the entire radiometer has been measured to be 78 K. The noise figure for the cryogenic InP MMIC 2-stage amplifier unit has been measured to be 51 K with a low power consumption of 0.84 mW per stage. The stability of the radiometer with a 4 GHz bandwidth, is characterized by a power spectrum with a '1/f knee' frequency of 45 Hz.