The next great leap forward in space-based far-infrared astronomy will be made by the Japanese-led SPICA mission, which is anticipated to be launched late 2020’s as the next large astrophysics mission of JAXA, in partnership with ESA and with key European contributions. Filling in the gap between JWST and ALMA, the SPICA mission will study the evolution of galaxies, stars and planetary systems. SPICA will utilize a deeply cooled 3m-class telescope, provided by European industry, to realize zodiacal background limited performance, high spatial resolution and large collecting area.
Making full advantage of the deeply cooled telescope (<6K), the SAFARI instrument on SPICA is a highly sensitive wide-field imaging photometer and spectrometer operating in the 34-210 μm wavelength range. Utilizing Nyquist-sampled focal-plane arrays of very sensitive Transition Edge Sensors (TES), SAFARI will offer a photometric imaging (R ≈ 2), and a low (R = 100) and medium resolution (R = 2000 at 100 μm) imaging spectroscopy mode in three photometric bands within a 2’x2’ instantaneous FoV by means of a cryogenic Mach-Zehnder Fourier Transform Spectrometer.
In this paper we will provide an overview of the SAFARI instrument design and system architecture. We will describe the reference design of the SAFARI focal- plane unit, the implementation of the various optical instrument functions designed around the central large-stroke FTS system, the photometric band definition and out-of-band filtering by quasioptical elements, the control of straylight, diffraction and thermal emission in the long-wavelength limit, and how we interface to the large-format FPA arrays at one end and the SPICA telescope assembly at the other end.
We will briefly discuss the key performance drivers with special emphasis on the optical techniques adopted to overcome issues related to very low background operation of SAFARI. A summary and discussion of the expected instrument performance and an overview of the astronomical capabilities finally conclude the paper.
This paper presents an analysis of the relative performance of dispersive and non-dispersive spectrometer designs, built for astronomical observing at far infrared wavelengths. The analysis compares the relative point source and mapping capabilities of each configuration in both pure background limited and detector limited regimes. These results are assessed in terms of their application for future space-based astronomical facilities in which astronomical sky background limited performance is realistically achievable.
The Japanese SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics, SPICA, aims to provide astronomers with a truly new window on the universe. With a large -3 meter class- cold -6K- telescope, the mission provides a unique low background environment optimally suited for highly sensitive instruments limited only by the cosmic background itself. SAFARI, the SpicA FAR infrared Instrument SAFARI, is a Fourier Transform imaging spectrometer designed to fully exploit this extremely low far infrared background environment. The SAFARI consortium, comprised of European and Canadian institutes, has established an instrument reference design based on a Mach-Zehnder interferometer stage with outputs directed to three extremely sensitive Transition Edge Sensor arrays covering the 35 to 210 μm domain. The baseline instrument provides R > 1000 spectroscopic imaging capabilities over a 2’ by 2’ field of view. A number of modifications to the instrument to extend its capabilities are under investigation. With the reference design SAFARI’s sensitivity for many objects is limited not only by the detector NEP but also by the level of broad band background radiation – the zodiacal light for the shorter wavelengths and satellite baffle structures for the longer wavelengths. Options to reduce this background are dedicated masks or dispersive elements which can be inserted in the optics as required. The resulting increase in sensitivity can directly enhance the prime science goals of SAFARI; with the expected enhanced sensitivity astronomers would be in a better position to study thousands of galaxies out to redshift 3 and even many hundreds out to redshifts of 5 or 6. Possibilities to increase the wavelength resolution, at least for the shorter wavelength bands, are investigated as this would significantly enhance SAFARI’s capabilities to study star and planet formation in our own galaxy.