SPECS: The Kilometer-baseline Far-IR Interferometer in NASA's Space Science Roadmap
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION GREENBELT MD GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER
Pagination or Media Count:
Ultimately, after the Single Aperture Far-IR SAFIR telescope, astrophysicists will need a far-IR observatory that provides angular resolution comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope. At such resolution galaxies at high redshift, protostars, and nascent planetary systems will be resolved, and theoretical models for galaxy, star, and planet formation and evolution can be subjected to important observational tests. This paper updates information provided in a 2000 SPIE paper on the scientific motivation and design concepts for interferometric missions SPIRIT the Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope and SPECS the Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure. SPECS is a kilometer baseline far-IRsubmillimeter imaging and spectral interferometer that depends on formation flying, and SPIRIT is a highly-capable pathfinder interferometer on a boom with a maximum baseline in the 30 - 50 m range. We describe recent community planning activities, remind readers of the scientific rationale for space-based far-infrared imaging interferometry, present updated design concepts for the SPIRIT and SPECS missions, and describe the main issues currently under study. The engineering and technology requirements for SPIRIT and SPECS, additional design details, recent technology developments, and technology roadmaps are given in a companion paper in the Proceedings of the conference on New Frontiers in Stellar Interferometry.