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Far Infrared Interferometer Technology Reference Study

Far Infrared Interferometer Technology Reference Study

Publication date: 07 October 2006

Authors: Lyngvi, A.

Year: 2006

Paper IAC-06-A3.1.05, 57th International Astronautical Congress, Valencia, Spain, 2-6 October 2006.

In response to ESA's call for space science themes in the frame of Cosmic Vision 2015-2025, the scientific community identified a Far Infrared mission with very high spatial resolution as a potential future science mission for Europe. A future far infrared mission would typically work at wavelengths between 25-300 microns and combine high sensitivity with an angular resolution better than 1 arcsecond at the shortest wavelengths. Such requirements would call for very large telescope diameters or for an interferometer based design.

To investigate the feasibility of this potential future mission the Science Payload & Advanced Concepts Office (SCI-A) at ESA initiated a Far Infrared Interferometer (FIRI) Technology Reference Study (TRS). The selected baseline concept for this study is a single spacecraft Michelson interferometer (i.e. pupil plane recombination) with two light collecting telescopes and a central hub beam combiner, all cryogenically cooled. To enable such a mission concept many innovative design solutions and technology developments would be required in the area of cryogenics, mechanisms and optics.

In this paper an overview of the result of the internal feasibility study of the FIRI concept will be provided. Specific emphasis is on critical subsystems and on required future technology development activities.

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