CCAT-prime will be a 6-meter aperture telescope operating from sub-mm to mm wavelengths, located at 5600 meters elevation on Cerro Chajnantor in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Its novel crossed-Dragone optical design will deliver a high throughput, wide field of view capable of illuminating much larger arrays of sub-mm and mm detectors than can existing telescopes. We present an overview of the motivation and design of Prime-Cam, a first-light instrument for CCAT-prime. Prime-Cam will house seven instrument modules in a 1.8 meter diameter cryostat, cooled by a dilution refrigerator. The optical elements will consist of silicon lenses, and the instrument modules can be individually optimized for particular science goals. The current design enables both broad- band, dual-polarization measurements and narrow-band, Fabry-Perot spectroscopic imaging using multichroic transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers operating between 190 and 450 GHz. It also includes broadband kinetic induction detectors (KIDs) operating at 860 GHz. This wide range of frequencies will allow excellent characterization and removal of galactic foregrounds, which will enable precision measurements of the sub-mm and mm sky. Prime-Cam will be used to constrain cosmology via the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effects, map the intensity of [CII] 158 μm emission from the Epoch of Reionization, measure Cosmic Microwave Background polarization and foregrounds, and characterize the star formation history over a wide range of redshifts. More information about CCAT-prime can be found at www.ccatobservatory.org.
We present the detailed science case, and brief descriptions of the telescope design, site, and first light instrument plans for a new ultra-wide field submillimeter observatory, CCAT-prime, that we are constructing at a 5600 m elevation site on Cerro Chajnantor in northern Chile. Our science goals are to study star and galaxy formation from the epoch of reionization to the present, investigate the growth of structure in the Universe, improve the precision of B-mode CMB measurements, and investigate the interstellar medium and star formation in the Galaxy and nearby galaxies through spectroscopic, polarimetric, and broadband surveys at wavelengths from 200 m to 2 mm. These goals are realized with our two first light instruments, a large field-of-view (FoV) bolometer-based imager called Prime-Cam (that has both camera and an imaging spectrometer modules), and a multi-beam submillimeter heterodyne spectrometer, CHAI. CCAT-prime will have very high surface accuracy and very low system emissivity, so that combined with its wide FoV at the unsurpassed CCAT site our telescope/instrumentation combination is ideally suited to pursue this science. The CCAT-prime telescope is being designed and built by Vertex Antennentechnik GmbH. We expect to achieve first light in the spring of 2021.
The CCAT-prime telescope is a 6-meter aperture, crossed-Dragone telescope, designed for millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelength observations. It will be located at an altitude of 5600 meters, just below the summit of Cerro Chajnantor in the high Atacama region of Chile. The telescope’s unobscured optics deliver a field of view of almost 8 degrees over a large, flat focal plane, enabling it to accommodate current and future instrumentation fielding <100k diffraction-limited beams for wavelengths less than a millimeter. The mount is a novel design with the aluminum-tiled mirrors nested inside the telescope structure. The elevation housing has an integrated shutter that can enclose the mirrors, protecting them from inclement weather. The telescope is designed to co-host multiple instruments over its nominal 15 year lifetime. It will be operated remotely, requiring minimum maintenance and on-site activities due to the harsh working conditions on the mountain. The design utilizes nickel-iron alloy (Invar) and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) materials in the mirror support structure, achieving a relatively temperature-insensitive mount. We discuss requirements, specifications, critical design elements, and the expected performance of the CCAT-prime telescope. The telescope is being built by CCAT Observatory, Inc., a corporation formed by an international partnership of universities. More information about CCAT and the CCAT-prime telescope can be found at www.ccatobservatory.org.
A common optical design for a coma-corrected, 6-meter aperture, crossed-Dragone telescope has been adopted for the CCAT-prime telescope of CCAT Observatory, Inc., and for the Large Aperture Telescope of the Simons Observatory. Both are to be built in the high altitude Atacama Desert in Chile for submillimeter and millimeter wavelength observations, respectively. The design delivers a high throughput, relatively flat focal plane, with a field of view 7.8 degrees in diameter for 3 mm wavelengths, and the ability to illuminate >100k diffraction-limited beams for < 1 mm wavelengths. The optics consist of offset reflecting primary and secondary surfaces arranged in such a way as to satisfy the Mizuguchi-Dragone criterion, suppressing first-order astigmatism and maintaining high polarization purity. The surface shapes are perturbed from their standard conic forms in order to correct coma aberrations. We discuss the optical design, performance, and tolerancing sensitivity. More information about CCAT-prime can be found at ccatobservatory.org and about Simons Observatory at simonsobservatory.org.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is the world’s largest airborne observatory, featuring a
2.5 meter effective aperture telescope housed in the aft section of a Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA’s current instrument
suite includes: FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope), a 5-40 μm dual band
imager/grism spectrometer developed at Cornell University; HIPO (High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations), a
0.3-1.1μm imager built by Lowell Observatory; GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies), a
multichannel heterodyne spectrometer from 60-240 μm, developed by a consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for
Radio Astronomy; FLITECAM (First Light Infrared Test Experiment CAMera), a 1-5 μm wide-field imager/grism
spectrometer developed at UCLA; FIFI-LS (Far-Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer), a 42-200 μm IFU grating
spectrograph completed by University Stuttgart; and EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph), a 5-28 μm highresolution
spectrometer designed at the University of Texas and being completed by UC Davis and NASA Ames
Research Center. HAWC+ (High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera) is a 50-240 μm imager that was originally
developed at the University of Chicago as a first-generation instrument (HAWC), and is being upgraded at JPL to add
polarimetry and new detectors developed at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). SOFIA will continually update its
instrument suite with new instrumentation, technology demonstration experiments and upgrades to the existing
instrument suite. This paper details the current instrument capabilities and status, as well as the plans for future
TripleSpec 4 (TS4) is a near-infrared (0.8um to 2.45um) moderate resolution (R ~ 3200) cross-dispersed spectrograph
for the 4m Blanco Telescope that simultaneously measures the Y, J, H and K bands for objects reimaged
within its slit. TS4 is being built by Cornell University and NOAO with scheduled commissioning in 2015.
TS4 is a near replica of the previous TripleSpec designs for Apache Point Observatory's ARC 3.5m, Palomar
5m and Keck 10m telescopes, but includes adjustments and improvements to the slit, fore-optics, coatings and
the detector. We discuss the changes to the TripleSpec design as well as the fabrication status and expected
sensitivity of TS4.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne observatory, carrying a 2.5 m telescope onboard a heavily modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA is optimized for operation at infrared wavelengths, much of which is obscured for ground-based observatories by atmospheric water vapor. The SOFIA science instrument complement consists of seven instruments: FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope), GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies), HIPO (High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations), FLITECAM (First Light Infrared Test Experiment CAMera), FIFI-LS (Far-Infrared Field-Imaging Line Spectrometer), EXES (Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph), and HAWC (High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera). FORCAST is a 5–40 μm imager with grism spectroscopy, developed at Cornell University. GREAT is a heterodyne spectrometer providing high-resolution spectroscopy in several bands from 60–240 μm, developed at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. HIPO is a 0.3–1.1 μm imager, developed at Lowell Observatory. FLITECAM is a 1–5 μm wide-field imager with grism spectroscopy, developed at UCLA. FIFI-LS is a 42–210 μm integral field imaging grating spectrometer, developed at the University of Stuttgart. EXES is a 5–28 μm high-resolution spectrograph, developed at UC Davis and NASA ARC. HAWC is a 50–240 μm imager, developed at the University of Chicago, and undergoing an upgrade at JPL to add polarimetry capability and substantially larger GSFC detectors. We describe the capabilities, performance, and status of each instrument, highlighting science results obtained using FORCAST, GREAT, and HIPO during SOFIA Early Science observations conducted in 2011.
FORCAST has completed 16 engineering and science flights as the “First Light” U. S. science instrument aboard SOFIA
and will be commissioned as a SOFIA facility instrument in 2013. FORCAST offers dual channel imaging (diffractionlimited
at wavelengths < 15 microns) using a 256 x 256 pixel Si:As blocked impurity band (BIB) detector at 5 - 28
microns and a 256 x 256 pixel Si:Sb BIB detector at 28 - 40 microns. FORCAST images a 3.4 arcmin × 3.2 arcmin fieldof-
view on SOFIA with a rectified plate scale of 0.768 arcsec/pixel. In addition to imaging capability, FORCAST offers
a facility mode for grism spectroscopy that will commence during SOFIA Cycle 1. The grism suite enables spectroscopy
over nearly the entire FORCAST wavelength range at low resolution (~140 - 300). Optional cross-dispersers boost the
spectroscopic resolution to ~1200 at 5 - 8 microns and ~800 at 9.8 – 13.7 microns. Here we describe the FORCAST
instrument including observing modes for SOFIA Cycle 1. We also summarize in-flight results, including detector and
optical performance, sensitivity performance, and calibration.
SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is an airborne observatory with a 2.7-m telescope that is
under development by NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR. From late 2010 and through the end of 2011,
SOFIA conducted a series of science demonstration flights, Early Science, using FORCAST (the Faint Object InfraRed
Camera for the SOFIA Telescope), HIPO (the High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations), and GREAT (the
German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz frequencies). Flying at altitudes as high as 13.7 km (45,000 ft), SOFIA
operates above more than 99.8% of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere, opening up most of the far-infrared and
sub-millimeter parts of the spectrum. During Early Science, 30 science missions were flown with results in solar system
astronomy, star formation, the interstellar medium, the Galactic Center, and extragalactic studies. Many of these
investigations were conducted by the first group of SOFIA General Investigators, demonstrating the operation of SOFIA
as a facility for the astronomical community. This paper presents some recent highlights from Early Science.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an airborne observatory for astronomical observations at wavelengths ranging from 0.3-1600 µm. It consists of a telescope with an effective aperture of 2.5 m, which is mounted in a heavily modified Boeing 747SP. The aircraft features an open port cavity that gives the telescope an unobstructed view of the sky. Hence the optical system is subject to both aerodynamic loads from airflow entering the cavity, and to inertial loads introduced by motion of the airborne platform. A complex suspension assembly was designed to stabilize the telescope. Detailed end-to-end simulations were performed to estimate image stability based on the mechatronic design, the expected loads, and optical influence parameters. In December 2010 SOFIA entered its operational phase with a series of Early Science flights, which have relaxed image quality requirements compared to the full operations capability. At the same time, those flights are used to characterize image quality and image stability in order to validate models and to optimize systems. Optimization of systems is not based on analytical models, but on models derived from system identification measurements that are performed on the actual hardware both under controlled conditions and operational conditions. This paper discusses recent results from system identification measurements, improvements to image stability, and plans for the further enhancement of the system.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) provide extremely luminous background light sources that can be used to study the
high redshift universe out to z ~ 12. Identification of high-z GRBs has been difficult to date because no good
high-z indicators have been found in the prompt or afterglow emission of GRBs, so ground-based spectroscopic
observations are required. JANUS is an Explorer mission that incorporates a GRB locator and a near-IR
telescope with low resolution spectroscopic capability so that it can measure the redshifts of GRBs immediately
after their discovery. It is expected to discover 50 GRBs with z > 5 as well as hundreds of high redshift quasars.
JANUS will facilitate study of the reionization phase, star formation, and galaxy formation in the very early
universe. Here we discuss the mission design and status.
During observation flights the telescope structure of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is
subject to disturbance excitations over a wide frequency band. The sources can be separated into two groups: inertial
excitation caused by vibration of the airborne platform, and aerodynamic excitation that acts on the telescope assembly
(TA) through an open port cavity. These disturbance sources constitute a major difference of SOFIA to other ground
based and space observatories and achieving the required pointing accuracy of 1 arcsecond cumulative rms or better
below 70 Hz in this environment is driving the design of the TA pointing and control system. In the current design it
consists of two parts, the rigid body attitude control system and a feed forward based compensator of flexible TA
deformation. This paper discusses the characterization and control system tuning of the as-built system. It is a process
that integrates the study of the structural dynamic behavior of the TA, the resulting image motion in the focal plane, and
the design and implementation of active control systems. Ground tests, which are performed under controlled
experimental conditions, and in-flight characterization tests, both leading up to the early science performance capabilities
of the observatory, are addressed.
We have designed and fabricated a suite of grisms for use in FORCAST, a mid-infrared camera scheduled as a
first-light instrument on SOFIA. The grism suite gives SOFIA a new capability: low resolution spectroscopy from
5 to 38 microns at resolving powers from R=200 to R=1200, without the addition of a new instrument. We have
developed an IDL based spectral data reduction and quick-look software package, in anticipation of FORCAST
grism spectroscopy becoming a facility observing mode on the SOFIA telescope. The package allows users to
quickly view their data by extracting single-order and cross-dispersed spectra immediately after acquiring them
in flight. We have optimized the quick-look software to reduce the number of steps required to turn a set of
observations into a fully reduced extracted spectrum. We present a description of the philosophy of the data
reduction software, supplemented with screen shots and examples in hopes of garnering feedback and critiques
from potential end users, software developers, and instrument builders.
We have implemented and tested a suite of grisms that will enable a moderate-resolution mid-infrared spectroscopic
mode in FORCAST, the facility mid-infrared camera on SOFIA. We have tested the hardware for the spectral modes
extensively in the laboratory with grisms installed in the FORCAST filter wheels. The grisms perform as designed,
consistently producing spectra at resolving powers in the 200-1200 range at wavelengths from 5 to 38 microns. In
anticipation of offering this capability as a SOFIA general observer mode, we are developing software for reduction and
analysis of FORCAST spectra, a spectrophotometric calibration plan, and detailed plans for in-flight tests prior to
commissioning the modes. We present a brief summary of the FORCAST grism spectroscopic system and a status report.
FORCAST is the "first light" U. S. science instrument to fly aboard SOFIA. FORCAST offers dual channel imaging in
discrete filters at 5 - 25 microns and 30 - 40 microns, with diffraction-limited imaging at wavelengths > 15 microns.
FORCAST has a plate scale of 0.75 arcsec per pixel, giving it a 3.2 arcmin x 3.2 arcmin FOV on SOFIA. We give a
status update on FORCAST development, including the performance of new far-IR filters; design and performance of
the calibration box; laboratory operations and performance; and results from ground-based and first flight operations.
FORCAST has been selected to be the "first light" U.S. science instrument aboard SOFIA. FORCAST will offer dual
channel imaging in discrete filters at 5 - 25 microns and 30 - 40 microns, with diffraction-limited imaging at wavelengths
> 15 microns. FORCAST will have a plate scale of 0.75 arcsec per pixel, giving it a 3.2 arcmin x 3.2 arcmin FOV on
SOFIA. We give a status update on FORCAST, including filter configuration for SOFIA's early science phase;
anticipated in-flight performance; SOFIA facility testing with FORCAST; ground-based testing performance at Palomar
Observatory; performance of its new dichroic beamsplitter; and a preliminary design of the in-flight calibration box.
The TEDI (TripleSpec - Exoplanet Discovery Instrument) is the first instrument dedicated to the near infrared radial
velocity search for planetary companions to low-mass stars. The TEDI uses Externally Dispersed Interferometry (EDI), a
combination of interferometry and multichannel dispersive spectroscopy. We have joined a white-light interferometer
with the Cornell TripleSpec (0.9 - 2.4 μm) spectrograph at the Palomar Observatory 200" telescope and begun an
experimental program to establish both the experimental and analytical techniques required for precision IR velocimetry
and the Doppler-search for planets orbiting low mass stars and brown dwarfs.
We report the performance of Triplespec from commissioning observations on the 200-inch Hale Telescope
at Palomar Observatory. Triplespec is one of a set of three near-infrared, cross-dispersed spectrographs
covering wavelengths from 1 - 2.4 microns simultaneously at a resolution of ~2700. At Palomar, Triplespec
uses a 1×30 arcsecond slit. Triplespec will be used for a variety of scientific observations, including
moderate to high redshift galaxies, star formation, and low mass stars and brown dwarfs. When used in
conjunction with an externally dispersed interferometer, Triplespec will also detect and characterize
We have designed and fabricated a suite of grisms for use in FORCAST, a mid-infrared camera scheduled as a
first-light instrument on SOFIA. The grism suite gives SOFIA a new capability: low and moderate resolution
spectroscopy from 5μm to 37μm, without the addition of a new instrument. One feature of the optical design
is that it includes a mode using pairs of cross-dispersed grisms, providing continuous wavelength coverage over
a broad range at higher resolving power. We fabricated four silicon (n = 3.44) grisms using photolithographic
techniques and purchased two additional mechanically ruled KRS-5 (n = 2.3) grisms. One pair of silicon grisms
permits observations of the 5 - 8μm band with a long slit at R~ 200 or, in a cross-dispersed mode, at resolving
powers up to 1500. In the 8 - 14μm region, where silicon absorbs heavily, the KRS-5 grisms produce resolving
powers of 300 and 800 in long-slit and cross-dispersed mode, respectively. The remaining two silicon grisms cover
17 - 37μm at resolving powers of 140 and 250. We have thoroughly tested the silicon grisms in the laboratory,
measuring efficiencies in transmission at 1.4 - 1.8μm. We report on these measurements as well as on cryogenic
performance tests of the silicon and KRS-5 devices after installation in FORCAST.
The TEDI (TripleSpec Exoplanet Discovery Instrument) will be the first instrument fielded specifically for finding low-mass
stellar companions. The instrument is a near infra-red interferometric spectrometer used as a radial velocimeter.
TEDI joins Externally Dispersed Interferometery (EDI) with an efficient, medium-resolution, near IR (0.9 - 2.4 micron)
echelle spectrometer, TripleSpec, at the Palomar 200 telescope. We describe the instrument and its radial velocimetry
demonstration program to observe cool stars.
We present a first cut instrument design package for the proposed 25 meter Cornell-Caltech Atacama Telescope (CCAT). The primary science for CCAT can be achieved through wide field photometric imaging in the short submillimeter through millimeter (200 μm to 2 mm) telluric windows. We present strawman designs for two cameras: a 32,000 pixel short submillimeter (200 to 650 μm) camera using transition edge sensed bare bolometer arrays that Nyquist samples (@ 350 μm) a 5'×5' field of view (FoV), and a 45,000 pixel long wavelength camera (850 μm to 2 mm) that uses slot dipole antennae coupled bolometer arrays with wavelength dependent sampling that covers up to a 20' square FoV. These are our first light instruments. We also anticipate "borrowed" instruments such as direct detection and heterodyne detection spectrometers will be available at, or nearly at first light.
This paper addresses the performance of a suite of grisms as part of an Astrobiology Science and Instrument Development (ASTID) Program to implement a moderate resolution spectroscopic capability in the mid/far-IR facility instrument FORCAST for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). A moderate resolution mid-IR spectrometer on SOFIA will offer advantages not available to either ground or space-based instruments after the Spitzer Space Telescope ceases operation in ~2008. SOFIA will begin operations in 2008 and will have an operational lifetime of ~20 years. From aircraft altitudes, it will be possible to cover a wide range of wavelengths, particularly in the critical 5-9 micron band, where detection of astrobiologically interesting molecules have key spectral signatures that are not accessible from the ground The FORCAST grism suite consists of six grisms: four monolithic Si grisms and two KRS-5 grisms. These devices will allow long-slit low-resolution (R = 100-300) and short-slit, cross-dispersed high-resolution spectroscopic modes (R = 800-1200) over select wavelengths in the 5-40 μm spectral range and enable observing programs to gather both images and spectra in a single SOFIA flight. The silicon grisms demonstrate a new family of dispersive elements with good optical performance for spectroscopy from 1.2-8 μm and beyond 18 μm. After SOFIA flies, the grism modes in FORCAST will complement other first generation instruments on SOFIA and provide follow-up capability of bright sources observed with Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) on Spitzer. This paper highlights the design of the grism suite for FORCAST and the current laboratory cryogenic performance of the silicon grisms.
The TEDI (TripleSpec Externally Dispersed Interferometry) is an interferometric spectrometer that will be used to explore the population of planets around the lowest mass stars. The instrument, to be deployed on the Palomar 200 Cassegrain mount, includes a stabilized Michelson interferometer combined with a medium resolution, broad band (0.8 - 2.4 micron) spectrograph, TripleSpec. We describe the instrument design and its application to Doppler velocimetry and high-resolution spectroscopy.
We report on new development and testing of FORCAST, the Faint Object infraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope. FORCAST will offer dual channel imaging in discrete filters at 5 - 25 microns and 30 - 40 microns, with diffraction-limited imaging at wavelengths > 15 microns. FORCAST will have a plate scale of 0.75 arcsec per pixel, giving it a 3.2 arcmin x 3.2 arcmin FOV on SOFIA. In addition, a set of grisms will enable FORCAST to perform long slit and cross-dispersed spectroscopic observations at low to moderate resolution (R ~ 140 - 1200) in the bandpasses 4.9 - 8.1 microns, 8.0 - 13.3 microns, 17.1 - 28.1 microns, and 28.6 - 37.4 microns. FORCAST has seen first light at the Palomar 200 inch telescope. It will be available for astronomical observations and facility testing at SOFIA first flight.
The Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope (CCAT) is a 25m-class sub-millimeter radio telescope capable of operating
from 300GHz up to 1.5 THz. The CCAT optical design is an f/8 Ritchey-Chretien (RC) system in a dual Nasmyth focus
configuration and a 20 arc-min FOV (diffraction limited imaging performance better than 0.31" at the edge of the field).
The large FOV is capable to accommodate up to 1200x1200 (Nyquist Sampled) Pixels at 200 microns, with better than
96% Strehl ratio. The telescope pedestal assembly is a counterbalanced elevation over azimuth design. The main
reflector surface is segmented and actively controlled to attain diffraction-limited operation up to 200 microns. A flat
Mirror located behind the main reflector vertex provides the optical path relay to either of the two Nasmyth platforms
and to a bent-Cassegrain focus for surface calibration. We present the imaging characteristics of the CCAT over the
20arc-min FOV at 200 microns at the Nasmyth focal plane, as well as the positioning sensitivity analysis of CCAT's
3.2m-diameter sub-reflector given in terms of the telescope optical performance, antenna pointing requirements and
sub-reflector chopping characteristics.
We have developed a high speed, flexible, data acquisition system and targeted it to astronomical imaging. The system is based on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and provides a gigabit/sec fiber optic link between the electronics located on the instrument and the host computer. The FPGAs are reconfigurable over the fiber optic link for maximum flexibility. The system has initially been targeted at DRS Technologies' 256x256 Si:As and Si:Sb detectors used in FORCAST1, a mid-IR camera/spectrograph built by Cornell University for SOFIA. The initial configuration provides sixteen parallel channels of six Msamples/second 14-bit analog to digital converters. The system can coadd 256x256 images at over 1000 frames per second in up to 64 different memory positions. Array clocking and sampling is generated from uploaded clocking patterns in two independent memories. This configuration allows the user to quickly
create, on the fly, any form of array clocking and sampling (destructive, non-destructive, sample up the ramp, additional reset frames, Fowler, single frames, co-added frames, multi-position chop, throw away frames, etc.) The electronics were designed in a modular fashion so that any number of analog channels from arrays or mosaics of arrays can be accommodated by using the appropriate number of FPGA boards and preamps. The preamp/analog to digital converter boards can be replaced as needed to operate any focal plane array or other sensor. The system also provides analog drive capability for controlling an X-Y chopping secondary mirror, nominal two position chopping, and can also synchronize to an externally driven chop source. Multiple array controllers can be synchronized together, allowing multi-channel systems to share a single chopping secondary, yet clock the focal planes differently from each other. Due to the flexibility of the FPGAs, it is possible to develop highly customized operating modes to maximize system performance or to enable novel observations and applications.
The Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) is one of three science instruments on the Spitzer Space Telescope. The IRS comprises four separate spectrograph modules covering the wavelength range from 5.3 to 38 μm with spectral resolutions, R~90 and 650, and it was optimized to take full advantage of the very low background in the space environment. The IRS is performing at or better than the pre-launch predictions. An autonomous target acquisition capability enables the IRS to locate the mid-infrared centroid of a source, providing the information so that the spacecraft can accurately offset that centroid to a selected slit. This feature is particularly useful when taking spectra of sources with poorly known coordinates. An automated data reduction pipeline has been developed at the Spitzer Science Center.
Cornell and Caltech are undertaking a two year conceptual design study for a 25-m class sub-mm telescope. The nominal location for this facility will be the high Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. The baseline design is a segmented mirror telescope optimized for operation at wavelengths longer than 200 microns to take advantage of a low precipitable water vapor at the site. We discuss science drivers and their implications for telescope design and technical requirements, and planned technical study areas.
We report laboratory tests amd development progress for the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST). FORCAST is a two-channel camera with selectable filters for continuum and line imaging in the 5 - 40 micron wavelength region. Simultaneous imaging will be possible in the two channels: 5 - 25 microns using a Si:As 256x256 blocked impurity band (BIB) detector array, and 25-40 microns using a Si:Sb BIB. FORCAST will sample 0.75 arcseconds per pixel allowing a 3.2'x3.2' instantaneous field-of view in both channels simultaneously. Imaging will be diffracted limited for lambda> 15 microns on the SOFIA telescope. Since FORCAST operates in the wavelength range where the seeing is best from SOFIA, it will provide the highest spatial resolution possible from the airborne observatory. In addition to imaging, the FORCAST optical design provides for a simple upgrade to include spectroscopic observations using grisms mounted in the filter wheels. FORCAST will be available for facility testing and astronomical observations at SOFIA first (f)light.
Four institutions are collaborating to design and build three near identical R ~2700 cross-dispersed near-infrared spectrographs for use on various 5-10 meter telescopes. The instrument design addresses the common observatory need for efficient, reliable near-infrared spectrographs through such features as broad wavelength coverage across 6 simultaneous orders (0.8 - 2.4 microns) in echelle format, real-time slit viewing through separate optics and detector, and minimal moving parts. Lastly, the collaborators are saving money and increasing the likelihood of success through economies of scale and sharing intellectual capital.
This paper presents results on performance testing of mid-infrared detector arrays for the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST). FORCAST is a two-channel camera that utilizes a Si:As blocked impurity band (BIB) 256 x 256 detector array for imaging through discrete filters at 5 - 25 microns, and a Si:Sb BIB 256 x 256 detector array for imaging at 25 - 40 microns, over a 3.2' x 3.2' field of view, under high thermal background conditions. DRS Technologies has designed and fabricated several Si:As BIB and Si:Sb BIB engineering grade detector arrays which we test as candidate arrays for FORCAST. We present their initial laboratory test performance results.
We describe an "Origins Survey" that will provide a comprehensive picture of the era of galaxy formation and assembly. The survey data will allow us to develop and test models of when and how the first condensed objects in the universe are formed. We propose to do this by accumulating enough redshifts to have 10,000 galaxies of each of 20 types (defined empirically by the real state of galaxies) in each of 10 time zones of duration 1.5 Gyr each. Discounting the first two such zones which will be covered by the SDSS, the 2DF, and other surveys, our plan is to obtain redshifts for a total of 2 million galaxies. The hardware design is driven by the requirement to see the earliest galaxies (z ~ 10) and the capability to carry out this high z survey in an elapsed time of five years on a dedicated telescope. These considerations lead to a tentative design that uses a 20 - 40 meter diameter telescope with an Integral Field Unit (IFU) high-resolution spectrograph (R=6000 operating in the 1 - 2.5 micron spectral range. We require a 1 - 3 arc minute field of view with a modest adaptive-optics-corrected 0.2 arc-sec half power diameter point spread function (in the near-IR). Simultaneous, complementary observations will be made in the far-infrared/submm (350 - 850) microns to view the "hidden" starbursts known to exist from SCUBA data and the (non-CMB) infrared background. These observations require a low water vapor site. With appropriate instrumentation the same telescope can be used to study proto-planetary disks and star formation regions in the low z Universe. In this paper we present the scientific case for the survey, the basis for our requirements, and the results of our preliminary studies of how best to meet these goals.
We report final design details and development progress for the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST). FORCAST is a two-channel camera with selectable filters for continuum and line imaging in the 5-40 micron wavelength region. Simultaneous imaging will be possible in the two-channels--5-25 microns using a Si:As 256×256 blocked impurity band (BIB) detector array, and 25-40 microns using a Si:Sb BIB. FORCAST will sample 0.75 arcseconds per pixel allowing a 3.2'×3.2' instantaneous field-of-view in both channels simultaneously. Imaging will be diffraction limited for lambda > 15 microns. Since FORCAST operates in the wavelength range where the seeing is best from SOFIA, it will provide the highest spatial resolution possible from the airborne observatory. In addition to imaging, the FORCAST optical design provides for a simple upgrade to include spectroscopic observations using grisms mounted in the filter wheels. We report improvements to the optical system and progress in construction of this SOFIA facility instrument and its subsystems. FORCAST will be available for facility testing and astronomical observations at SOFIA first (f)light.
We present techniques for Fourier analysis of the diffraction-limited optical performance of large-aperture astronomical telescopes. We use combinations of Fast Fourier Transform, Discrete Fourier Transform, and Fourier interpolation algorithms as well as the symmetry properties of the segmented mirrors to achieve full calculation of the diffraction pattern in a computationally-efficient manner. We discuss the implementation and results of these techniques in the context of a 15-meter segmented-mirror telescope design for the Large Atacama Telescope.
Despite the relatively large number of proposed 'extremely large telescopes' very few of them concentrate on the thermal infrared as their main operating wavelengths. An IR-optimized large telescope located in the Atacama dessert at about 5500m altitude, where many atmospheric windows in the mid-IR open up, would be ideal to study astronomical targets that are either intrinsically red or heavily obscured by dust. A large aperture in the order of 15 - 20m requires adaptive optics correction out to λ⩽20 μm with the least possible thermal emission from the instrument itself. Here we discuss a specialized, integrated AO system that provides diffraction-limited performance in the thermal infrared (at λ⩾2.5 μm). This approach is very different from the AO systems proposed for other 10m+ class telescopes.
We present the basic concept of such an IR-optimized AO system, based on a 2m chopping adaptive secondary. We derive its technical specifications: configuration, bandwidth, and degrees of freedom show its predicted performance for typical seeing in terms of Strehl ratio as a function of limiting guide star magnitude, wavelength and corrected field-of-view. We also briefly address the science that this AO system/telescope would be ideal for.
We discuss plans for the construction of a 15-m class telescope located in the high Atacama desert of Northern Chile. The baseline concept is a segmented mirror telescope optimized for operation at wavelengths longer than 3.5 microns but capable of working at shorter wavelengths. An adaptive secondary will be used to achieve diffraction limited imaging while maintaining low emissivity. The facility will be designed for eventual remote/robotic operation and include a number of instruments designed to take advantage of the low precipitable water vapor and good seeing conditions.
We are constructing a facility-class, mid/far-infrared camera for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the Sofia Telescope (FORCAST) is a two-channel camera with selectable filters for continuum imaging in the 5 - 8, 17 - 25 micron, and/or 25 - 40 micron regions. The design supports simultaneous imaging in the two-channels. Using the latest 256 X 256 Si:As and Si:Sb blocked-impurity-band detector array technology to provide high-sensitivity wide- field imaging. FORCAST will sample images at 0.75 arcsec/pixel and have a 3.2' X 3.2' instantaneous field- of-view. Imaging is diffraction limited for lambda > 15 microns.
The Wide-Field IR Explorer (WIRE) is a small spaceborne cryogenic IR telescope being readied for launch in September 1998. Part of NASA's Small Explorer program, WIRE will carry out a deep pointed survey in broad 24 and 12 micron passbands designed primarily to study the evolution of starburst galaxies and to search for protogalaxies. The strategy for the WIRE survey and its stare-and-dither technique for building up long exposure times are described. An overview of the WIRE instrument is presented, with emphasis on the results of ground characterization and expected on-orbit performance of the WIRE optics and the Si:As focal plane arrays. The result of the ground characterization demonstrate that WIRE will meet or exceed the requirements for its science objectives. A brief overview is given of the primary and additional science that will be enabled by WIRE.
High performance 128 X 128 Si:As and Si:Sb blocked- impurity-band hybrid arrays have been developed for ground- based and airborne astronomy. These devices cover the 5-25 (Si:As) and 15-40 micrometers (Si:Sb) portions of the spectrum. The peak detective quantum efficiencies quantum efficiencies exceed 50 percent for Si:As and 30 percent for Si:Sb. An anti-reflection coat is used to increase responsivity and to reduce internal reflections for the Si:As detectors. The multiplexer yields a linear output response vs. integrated charge. A special design feature of the multiplexer is a changeable nodal capacitance that allows dynamic switching of the well depth between 1.8 X 106 and 1.8 X 107 electrons. The single-sample read noises for the two states are approximately 75 and approximately 760 electrons respectively. These devices have been used successfully to perform astronomical observations in a number of instruments.
The wide-field infrared explorer (WIRE) is a small spaceborne telescope specifically designed to study the evolution of starburst galaxies. This powerful astronomical instrument will be capable of detecting typical starburst galaxies at a redshift of 0.5, ultraluminous infrared galaxies beyond a redshift of 2, and luminous protogalaxies beyond a redshift of 5. The WIRE survey, to be conducted during a four month period during 1998, will cover over 100 deg2 of high galactic latitude sky at 12 and 25 micrometer. WIRE will measure the ratio of 12 and 25 micrometer flux of detected sources, which is a powerful statistical luminosity indicator. The distribution of starburst galaxy 12-25 micrometer colors as a function of flux density will reveal their evolutionary history and perhaps the presence of protogalaxies at high redshifts. This mission, which is part of the NASA Small Explorer program, takes advantage of recent advances in infrared array detector technology to provide a large sensitivity gain over previously flown missions. During its four-month mission lifetime, WIRE will amass a catalog exceeding the size of the 1983 Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) Point Source Catalog at flux levels over 500 times fainter than the IRAS Faint Source Catalog. WIRE has been designed to maximize detections of high-redshift starburst galaxies using an extremely small and simple instrument. The 30 cm aperture Cassegrain telescope has no moving parts, no reimaging optics and a wide 33 by 33 arcminute field of view. The optics and detectors are cooled during the mission using a lightweight two-stage solid hydrogen cryostat. The three-axis stabilized spacecraft bus is provided by the Goddard Space Flight Center Small Explorer Project Team. The mission, to be launched in September 1998 using an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL Launch Vehicle, is managed by GSFC.
Cryogenic telescopes in space offer dramatic reduction in thermal IR background flux. Outstanding performance in the areas of detector dark current, read noise, and radiation hardness are required to take full advantage of the sensitivity improvements possible with such facilities, especially in very low flux (2 to 100 photons/pixel/sec) applications such as the Infrared Spectrograph on SIRTF. We present our testing methods and our results on Si:As and Si:Sb block impurity band (BIB) detectors produced by Rockwell International for our SIRTF and WIRE applications. Remarkable recent results are the reduction of the multiple-sampling read noise to 30 electrons, reduction of dark current to 10 e-/s for Si:As and 40 e-/s for Si:Sb, the use of an antireflective coating to improve the detective quantum efficiency for Si:As, extension of the useful wavelength range of Si:Sb to 40 microns, and confirmation that lab data on a 50 s time scale can be extrapolated to integration times at least 10 times longer.