Mission Studies & Proposals

IPAC actively participates in concept studies for the next generation of US and international space observatories, contributing its expertise in data science, mission management, technology development, and scientific exploration. Major flagship-class studies supported by IPAC are the Origins Space Telescope (OST), in preparation for the US 2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, and the Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA). IPAC science staff are involved in envisaging and preparing the science case for these concept studies.



ATLAS (Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy) Probe is a concept for a NASA probe-class space mission, the spectroscopic follow-up to WFIRST. ATLAS will multiplex its scientific return by obtaining deep slit spectroscopy with R=1000 over the wavelength range of 1-4 microns for ~200M galaxies imaged by WFIRST out to z = 7 in three tied surveys (Deep, Medium, and Wide), and deliver spectra that enable a wide range of diagnostic studies of the physical properties of galaxies over most of cosmic history. ATLAS is a 1.5m telescope with a field of view of 0.4 sq deg, and uses Digital Micro-mirror Devices (DMDs) as slit selectors, which enable a spectroscopic multiplex factor greater than 5,000. ATLAS will orbit around the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point. It will have a 5 year prime mission that includes Guest Observing time. ATLAS is designed to fit within the NASA probe-class mission cost envelope; it has a single instrument, a telescope aperture that allows for a lighter launch vehicle, and mature technology (DMDs can reach TRL 6 within 2 years).

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ISCEA (Infrared SmallSat for Cluster Evolution Astrophysics) is a small space mission that will study the evolution of the Universe during the peak of galaxy formation. It was selected by NASA for a mission concept study in September 2018.

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Origins Space Telescope

Origins Space Telescope (OST) will unveil the hidden side of galaxy and black hole evolution, trace the trail of water from molecular clouds to proto-planetary disks, revolutionize our understanding of planetary system formation, and complete the census of the outer reaches of the Solar System. The science goals and associated measurement requirements for OST are being established by a community-based Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT).

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SPICA: Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics

The Space Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), a joint ESA-JAXA mission proposed for the 2016 ESA Medium-size mission opportunity (M5). With a 2.5m, actively cooled primary mirror, and a suite of powerful instruments covering mid and far-infrared wavelengths, SPICA will uniquely address a wide range of science, from exoplanets to cosmology, all central to themes in ESA's 2015-2025 Cosmic Vision.

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