The Next-Generation Infrared Space Mission: SPICA
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
We present an overview of SPICA (Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics), which is an astronomical mission optimized for mid- and far-infrared astronomy with a cryogenically cooled 3-m class (3.5 m in the current design) telescope. Its high spatial resolution and unprecedented sensitivity will enable us to address a number of key problems in present-day astronomy, ranging from the star-formation history of the universe to the formation of planets. To reduce the mass of the whole mission, SPICA will be launched at ambient temperature and cooled down on orbit by mechanical coolers on board with an efficient radiative cooling system, a combination of which allows us to have a 3-m class cooled (5 K) telescope in space with moderate total weight (4t). SPICA is an international mission. Japan is in charge of the whole integration of the system, and its activity is now approved as a pre-pro ject at JAXA. The assessment study on the European contribution to the SPICA pro ject has been carried out under the framework of the ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. US and Korean participations are also being discussed extensively. The target launch year of SPICA is 2018.
Key words: Cryogenics / Missions: SPICA / Space missions / Space science
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2009