20 September 2007 Large infrared telescopes in the exploration era: SAFIR
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Abstract
The Single Aperture Far Infrared (SAFIR) observatory - a concept design for a 10m-class spaceborne far- infrared and submillimeter telescope, has been proposed for development, and given high priority by agency strategic planners. SAFIR will target star formation in the early universe, the chemistry of our interstellar medium, and the chemical processes that lead to planet formation. SAFIR is a telescope that, with passive cooling at Earth-Sun L2, achieves temperatures that allow background-limited broad-band operation in the far infrared. This observatory is baselined as being autonomous in deployment and operation, but consideration has been given to understanding the enabling opportunities presented by Exploration architecture. As this architecture has become better defined, these opportunities have become easier to understand.We present conceptual strategies that would use modestly enhanced Exploration architecture to service and maintain SAFIR, allowing extended duration, lower risk and hardware cost, and performance enhancements linked to the steep development curve for sensor technology. These efforts, which would rely on both human and robotic agents, presume routine operations at Earth-Sun L2, and servicing at an Earth-Moon L1 jobsite. The latter is understood to be easily accessible to a lunar-capable Exploration program. This study bridges the interface between Exploration technology and astronomical space observatory technology. Such an Exploration-enhanced version of SAFIR can be seen as a strawman for more ambitious far future work, in which much larger science instruments that cannot be packaged in a single launch vehicle are not only serviced and maintained in space, but also constructed there.
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Dan Lester, Jason Budinoff, Charles Lillie, "Large infrared telescopes in the exploration era: SAFIR", Proc. SPIE 6687, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts III, 66870M (20 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.733281; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.733281
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