INFO 04-1999b: Payload for FIRST confirmed
10 March 1999The three instruments on board ESA's space observatory FIRST (the Far InfraRed and Submillimetre Telescope), due to be launched in 2007, were formally approved on 17 February by ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC). As proposed by the scientific community in February last year, FIRST's payload will consist of two cameras and a high-resolution spectrometer.
"They are real technological challenges. Instruments like these have never been used in a space telescope," says FIRST Project Scientist Göran Pilbratt, at the ESA's Science and Technology Centre (ESTEC), in The Netherlands. Nearly 40 institutes, mainly European with some American participation, will design and build the FIRST instruments.
The three instruments on board FIRST will observe at long infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. They will provide very detailed information about the coldest objects in the Universe, and those enshrouded by dust. Some examples are the earliest stages of star formation - the giant cosmic clouds in which the pre-stellar cores form from which the stars hatch are at nearly minus 13 K - or the dusty distant galaxies undergoing violent evolution processes. Also, FIRST spectrometers will show the composition, temperature, density and motion of the gas and dust of the clouds in interstellar space.
To avoid the 'noise' caused by emission of the detectors in instruments themselves a cryostat full of superfluid liquid helium will cool them down to a temperature below 2K.
The Heterodyne Instrument for FIRST (HIFI) takes very high-resolution spectra of the astronomical objects in thousands of frequencies simultaneously within three bands - the 480-1250 GHz band, the 1410-1910 GHz band and 2400-2700 GHz band - using superconducting mixers as detectors. It will be designed and built by a consortium led by Thijs de Graauw, SRON, Groningen, The Netherlands.
The PACS instrument is an infrared camera and a spectrometer. It will operate simultaneously in two wavelength bands - the 80-130 μ and the 130-210 μ bands - with photoconductor array detectors. It will be developed and built by a consortium led by Albrecht Poglitsch, MPE, Garching, Germany.
The Spectral and Photometric Imaging REceiver (SPIRE) is also a camera and spectrometer, the use of bolometer detectors enables it to observe at longer wavelengths than PACS. It provides broadband photometry simultaneously in bands centred on 250, 350, and 500 μ. The operating temperature of all detectors is very close to 0.3 K. It will be developed and built by a consortium led by M.J.Griffin, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, UK.
Main institutes for FIRST:
ARPEGES, CNRS/URA, Paris (F)
Institut für Astronomie der Universität Wien, Vienna (A)
Astrophysikalische Institut und Universitäts-Sternwarte, Jena (D)
CAISMI-CNR, Florence (I)
Caltech, Pasadena (USA)
Centre Spatial de Liège, Universiti de Liège, Liège (B)
CESR, CNRS/UPR 8002, Toulouse (F)
Chalmers/Onsala - Radio and Space Science Department, Göteborg (S)
Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA), Grenoble (F)
Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Service d'Astrophysique (CEA- Sap), Saclay (F)
DESPA, CNRS/URA, Paris (F)
DLR-WR, Berlin (D)
Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Berlin (D)
HIA, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria (CDN)
Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine (ICSTM), London (UK)
Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS), Orsay (F)
Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, La Laguna (E)
Istituto di Fisica della Spazio Interplanetario, Frascati (I)
IRAM, St Martin d'Heres (F)
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena (USA)
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven (B)
Kosma, I. Physikalisches Institut, Köln (D)
Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale, Marseille (F)
LAS, CNRS/UPR 9010, Marseille (F)
LRM-DEMIRM, CNRS/URA 336, Paris (F)
Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, Lindau (D)
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg (D)
Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Garching (D)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Cambridge (USA)
Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), Dorking, Surrey (UK)
NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland (USA)
National Taiwan University Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Taipei, Taiwan
Observatoire de Bordeaux, Bordeaux (F)
Observatoire de Marseille, Marseille (F)
Observatorio Astronomico Nacional (OAN), Guadalajar (E)
Onsala Space Observatory, Onsala (S)
Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Firenze (I)
Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Padova (I)
Queen Mary and Westfield College (QMW), London (UK)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen-Applied Physics Department, Groningen (NL)
Royal Observatory of Edinburgh (ROE), Edinburgh (UK)
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton (UK)
SRON Groningen (NL)
SRON Utrecht (NL)
Stockholm Observatory, Stockholm (S)
University of Cambridge, MRAO, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge (UK)