The Hubble Space Telescope has been a scientific marvel that has provided unimaginable imagery and scientific discovery. Its exquisite UV/Visible imaging performance is unmatched from the ground. In NASA’s future planning, the earliest possible successor mission would be in the 3030s, well beyond the expected lifetime of Hubble. The ASTRO-1 space telescope is a 1.8m off-axis (unobscured) observatory that looks to fill this critical void with Hubble-like performance to continue the scientific quest while also providing the possibility for exoplanet research with a coronagraphic instrument and/or a free flying starshade. BoldlyGo Institute seeks to reach beyond NASA funding to leverage the high public interest in space research and exploration, and the search for life beyond Earth.
A second generation near-infrared instrument was built by the University of Colorado for the ARC 3.5 meter telescope and is being commissioned at the Apache Point Observatory. An initial engineering run, first light, commissioning observations, and initial facility science operations have been accomplished in the last year. Instrument imaging performance was good to excellent from first light and consortium observers began to employ the instrument on a shared-risk basis immediately after commissioning operations. Instrument optical and mechanical performance during this testing and operations phase are discussed. Detector system (Rockwell Hawaii-1RG 1024x1024 HgCdTe focal plane array with Leach controller) characteristics during these early operations are detailed along with ongoing efforts for system optimization. High resolution (R~10,000) spectroscopy is planned employing a Queensgate (now IC Optical) cryogenic Fabry-Perot etalon, though mechanical difficulties with the etalon precluded a system performance demonstration. The Consortium has decided that the instrument will retain the name NIC-FPS (Near Infrared Camera and Fabry-Perot Spectrometer) after commissioning.
The Destiny space telescope is a candidate architecture for the NASA-DOE Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM). This paper describes some of the scientific and observational issues that will be explored as part of our mission concept study. The Destiny ~1.8-meter near-infrared (NIR) grism-mode space telescope would gather a census of type Ia and type II supernovae (SN) over the redshift range 0.5 < z < 1.7 for measuring the expansion rate of the Universe as a function of time and characterizing the nature of dark energy. The central concept is a wide-field, all-grism NIR survey camera. Grism spectra with 2-pixel resolving power R~70-100 will provide broad-band spectrophotometry, redshifts, SN classification, as well as valuable time-resolved diagnostic data for understanding the SN explosion physics. Spectra from all objects within the 1° x 0.25° FOV will be obtained on a large HgCdTe focal plane array. Our methodology requires only a single mode of operation, a single detector technology, and a single instrument.
The Dark Energy Space Telescope (DESTINY) is a proposed approach to the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM). This paper describes its current design and trades of an on-going mission concept study. The DESTINY ~1.8-meter near-infrared (NIR) grism-mode space telescope would gather a census of type Ia and type II supernovae (SN) over the redshift range 0.5<Z<1.7 for characterizing the nature of dark energy. The central concept is a wide-field, all-grism NIR survey camera. Grism spectra with 2-pixel resolving power λ/Δλ≈ 100 will provide broadband spectrophotometry, redshifts, SN classification, as well as valuable time-resolved diagnostic data for understanding the SN explosion physics. DESTINY provides simultaneous spectroscopy on each object within the wide field-of-view sampled by a large focal plane array. The design combines the wide FOV coverage of a flat field, all-reflective three mirror anastigmat with spectroscopy using an optimized nonobjective "objective" grism located in the real exit pupil of the TMA. The spectra from objects within the resulting 0.25 square-degree FOV are sampled with 100 mas pixels by an 8k x 32k HgCdTe FPA. This methodology requires only a single mode of operation, a single detector technology, and a single instrument.
To fulfill the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's some of the goals of the Origins program, we present the candidate Middle Class Explorer, ORION. ORION will image all the nearby star forming regions at high resolution at several astrophysically relevant emission lines. By imaging the nearby star forming regions ORION will answer profound questions about the origin of stars like the Sun, and therefore the planets that may contain life elsewhere in the universe. To compete with existing instruments, both in space and on the ground, we make use of new technologies and our ability to optimize the design for a single purpose.
The ORION MIDEX mission is a 1.2m UV-visual observatory orbiting at L2 that will conduct the first-ever high spatial resolution survey of a statistically significant sample of visible star-forming environments in the Solar neighborhood in emission lines and continuum. This survey will be used to characterize the star and planet forming environments within 2.5 kpc of the Sun, infer global properties and star formation histories in these regions, understand how environment influences the process of star and planet formation, and develop a classification scheme for star forming regions. Based on these findings a similar survey will be conducted of large portions of the Magellanic Clouds, extending the classification scheme to new types of regions common in external galaxies, allowing the characterization of low mass star forming environments in the Magellanic Clouds, study of the spatial distribution of star forming environments and tracing of star formation history. Finally the mission will image a sample of external galaxies out to ~5 Mpc. The distribution of star forming region type will be mapped as a function of galactic environment to infer the distribution and history of low-mass star formation over galactic scales, and characterize the stellar content and star formation history of galaxies.
A near-infrared instrument is being built for the ARC 3.5 meter telescope that will operate in both an imaging and a narrow band, full field spectroscopic mode. The 4.5' x 4.5' fild-of-view is imaged onto a new-generation, low-noise Rockwell Hawaii-1RG 1024x1024 HgCdTe detector. High resolution (R~10,000) spectroscopy is accomplished by employing a Queensgate (now IC Optical) cryogenic Fabry-Perot etalon. The instrument is housed in a large Dewar of innovative, light-weight design. This report describes the as-built opto-mechanical system for the instrument and the work remaining before deployment at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.
The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is a new instrument for the Hubble Space Telescope that will be installed during servicing mission 4, currently scheduled for May, 2005. The primary science objectives of the mission are the study of the origins of large scale structure in the universe, the formation, and evolution of galaxies, the origin of stellar and planetary systems and the cold interstellar medium. As such, COS has been designed for the highest possible sensitivity on point sources, while maintaining moderate (λ/Δλ = 20,000) spectral resolution. COS has recently (summer 2003) completed an initial calibration. Performance is essentially as predicted. Detailed results from that calibration are presented in Wilkinson, et al, this volume.
The Near-Infrared Camera and Fabry-Perot Spectrometer (NIC-FPS) will provide near-IR imaging over the wavelength range ~0.9-2.45 microns and medium resolution (R~10,000) full-field Fabry-Perot spectroscopy in the 1.5-2.4 micron range. Science observation will commence by mid 2004 on the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-m telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, NM.
NIC-FPS will allow a wide variety of extragalactic, galactic, and solar system observational programs to be conducted. NIC-FPS will support two observational modes, near-IR imaging or Fabry-Perot spectroscopy. For spectroscopy of line-emitting objects, the cryogenic Fabry-Perot etalon is inserted into the optical path to generate 3D spectral datacubes at ~30 km/s spectral resolution. For narrow to broad-band imaging, the etalon is removed from the optical path. Both modes will utilize a Rockwell Hawaii 1RG 1024 x 1024 HgCdTe detector which features low dark current, low noise and broad spectral response required for astronomical observations. The optics and detector will provide a full 4.6' × 4.6' field of view at 0.27" pixel. NIC-FPS will be mounted to the ARC telescope's Nasmyth port.
NIC-FPS will significantly increase ARC's near-IR imaging and spectroscopy capabilities. We present NIC-FPS's optical design and instrument specifications.
The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is a new instrument for the Hubble Space Telescope that will be installed during servicing mission 4, currently scheduled for March 2004. The primary science objectives of the mission are the study of the origins of large scale structure in the universe, the formation, and evolution of galaxies, the origin of stellar and planetary systems and the cold interstellar medium. As such, COS has been designed for the highest possible sensitivity on point sources, while maintaining moderate (λ/Δλ = 20,000) spectral resolution. In this paper, the instrument design and predicted performance is summarized, as well as summary of the instrument flight and prototype component performance to date.
The Hubble Space Telescope is arguably one of the most important and successful scientific endeavors undertaken in the twentieth century. Hubble, a modest-sized 2.4-m telescope, outperforms much larger terrestrial telescopes because it is diffraction limited, and because the sky seen from orbit is darker than the terrestrial night sky. If we increase the diameter of Hubble to 8.4-m, a diameter comparable to Keck and the VLT, the increase in capability will be comparable to that which was first achieved by Hubble's launch and subsequent repair. HST10X will allow a fast track solution of outstanding problems in astronomy. Perhaps foremost among these is the detection of earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. HST10X can detect earth-like planets around stars at distances up to 10 parsecs. Furthermore, HST10X will enable spectroscopic examination of earth-like planets to search for atmospheric oxygen, a certain sign of life.
We present an overview of the expected performance and science goals of the cosmic origins spectrograph (COS), a fourth generation instrument to be installed aborad the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during the fourth HST servicing mission scheduled for late 2002. COS is a UV spectrograph optimized for observing faint point sources with moderate spectral resolution. The instrument has two channels: a far- UV channel that is sensitive in the 1150-1775 angstrom wavelength range and a near-UV channel that operates between 1750-3200 angstrom. The COS science team program concentrates on QSO absorption line systems and the IGM, dynamics of the ISM in galaxies and galaxy halos, UV extinction in the Milky Way, horizontal-branch stars in globular clusters, and volatile gases in the atmospheres of solar system bodies.