7 July 2006 The Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope (SPIRIT): mission study results
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We report results of a recently-completed pre-Formulation Phase study of SPIRIT, a candidate NASA Origins Probe mission. SPIRIT is a spatial and spectral interferometer with an operating wavelength range 25 - 400 μm. SPIRIT will provide sub-arcsecond resolution images and spectra with resolution R = 3000 in a 1 arcmin field of view to accomplish three primary scientific objectives: (1) Learn how planetary systems form from protostellar disks, and how they acquire their chemical organization; (2) Characterize the family of extrasolar planetary systems by imaging the structure in debris disks to understand how and where planets form, and why some planets are ice giants and others are rocky; and (3) Learn how high-redshift galaxies formed and merged to form the present-day population of galaxies. Observations with SPIRIT will be complementary to those of the James Webb Space Telescope and the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter Array. All three observatories could be operational contemporaneously.
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