In Development

IPAC is involved in the development of a range of future observational facilities both in space and on the ground. IPAC contributes expertise in science formulation, data science, mission management, technology development, public outreach and communications. In particular, projects currently in development leverage IPAC's experience in maximizing the scientific return from targeted exploration of the infrared-submillimeter universe, all-sky surveys, and time series observations. IPAC science staff participate in setting the science requirements for these facilities.


Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC

Euclid is a European Space Agency (ESA) M-class mission, with participation from NASA, to study the geometry and nature of the dark universe. It consists of a 1.2m telescope with two instruments operating at optical and near-infrared wavelengths (0.5-2 microns). The mission is optimized for undertaking two measurements sensitive to dark energy - weak gravitational lensing and galaxy clustering. It will also enable unprecedented advances in many other areas of astrophysics through its 15,000 square degree wide area survey. It has a 6 year nominal lifetime with launch slated for the early 2020s. NASA participation in Euclid includes delivery of the near-infrared detectors as well as participation in the design, data analysis and interpretation by US scientists.

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Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is one of the next generation of great observatories, designed to conduct a ten- year survey of the dynamic Universe. The LSST will have an exceptionally wide field of view and the ability to survey the entire visible sky every three nights. The astronomical catalogs produced by the LSST will be thousands of times larger than from the largest current surveys. Astronomers will use this wealth of data to better understand dark matter and dark energy, the formation and structure of the Milky Way, the transient optical sky, hazardous asteroids, and the remote solar system. The LSST is currently under construction in northwestern Chile and it is expected to begin operations at the beginning of the 2020s.

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Near-Earth Object Camera

The Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) is a new mission that is designed to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are near the Earth. NEOCam consists of an infrared telescope and a wide-field camera operating at thermal infrared wavelengths.NEOCam's primary science objectives are to assess the present-day risk of near-Earth object (NEO) impact, study the origin and ultimate fate of our solar system's asteroids, and find the most suitable NEO targets for future exploration by robots and humans. The NEOCam mission has been funded for detailed refinement by NASA.

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Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer

SPHEREx is a NASA Medium Explorer mission designed to 1) constrain the physics of inflation by measuring its imprints on the three-dimensional large-scale distribution of matter, 2) trace the history of galactic light production through a deep multi-band measurement of large-scale clustering, and 3) investigate the abundance and composition of water and biogenic ices in the early phases of star and planetary disk formation. SPHEREx will obtain near-infrared 0.75-5.0 um spectra every 6" over the entire sky. It implements a simple instrument design with a single observing mode to map the entire sky four times during its nominal 25-month mission. SPHEREx will also have strong scientific synergies with other missions and observatories, resulting in a rich legacy archive of spectra that will bear on numerous scientific investigations.

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Thirty Meter Telescope

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a next-generation extremely large telescope that will offer astronomers a window to the Universe with unprecedented quality and depth. The primary mirror of the TMT will be 30m making it among the largest optical-near infrared telescopes to be built in the coming decade. Scientist will use the TMT to find answers to grand questions like “What are dark matter and dark energy?”, “When did the first galaxies form and how did they evolve?”, “What kind of galaxies host what kind of black holes?, “How do stars and planet form?”, and “Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?”. TMT is being jointly developed by Caltech, the Department of Science and Technology of India, National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, National Research Council Canada and the University of California. Onsite construction is expected to begin in the late 2020s.

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Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope

The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA observatory designed to explore the Universe in search of answers to fundamental questions about dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a 2.4 m primary mirror (the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope) but will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument (WFC3), capturing more of the sky at once. The primary instrument, the Wide Field Instrument, will measure light from a billion galaxies over the course of the mission lifetime and will perform a microlensing survey of the inner Milky Way to find ~2,600 exoplanets. The Coronagraph Instrument will directly image ice and gas giant exoplanets. WFIRST is designed for a 6 year mission and is expected to launch in the mid 2020s.

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