About the conference

The infrared waveband plays host to a tool box full with an extensive range of spectroscopic and photometric diagnostics which probe discriminatively the very wide range of physical conditions found in different astronomical environments.  The past 25 years have marked a golden age in space-based infrared astronomy, with the IRAS, ISO, AKARI and Spitzer satellites advancing fields from planetary science to star formation, and galaxy formation through to galaxy evolution.  Much is expected from the far-infrared/sub-millimetre instrument suite on the soon-to-be launched Herschel, and the NIR/MIR capabilities of JWST.

The successes of past missions have raised many key questions in planet formation and galaxy evolution that can only be addressed in the IR/MIR/FIR, yet that are "just" beyond the capabilities of Herschel and the JWST.

In this workshop we explored the scientific capabilities of SPICA - a proposed next generation infrared satellite for cosmology and astrophysics and a candidate mission for the ESA Cosmic Vision. A Japanese-led, joint JAXA-ESA mission, SPICA will have a single-element, high surface accuracy 3.5 m mirror, cooled to <6 K. The combination of large collecting area, low self-emission and diffraction limited performance over a core wavelength range of 5 - 210 μm, will provide the basis for a sensitive and versatile suite of focal plane instruments. These include: a large-format MIR camera (5-38 μm), MIR spectrometers (R~30,000 at 4-18 μm; R~1,500 at 10-36 μm), a high contrast (10-6) MIR coronagraph (3.5-27 μm) with photometric and spectroscopic capability, a FIR imaging spectrometer and camera (R~3, 100, 2000 over 34-210 μm) and a single-pixel high sensitivity, low-resolution FIR/submm grating spectrometer (38-430 μm).

Contributed talks and posters examined the key outstanding questions that can be addressed with SPICA, from those in the very local universe to those at the edges of time. The purpose of this workshop was to showcase the prompt discussion and debate on the capabilities of SPICA, in so doing to further refine the mission science case.