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SAFIR Telescope

Gold line

The Single Aperture Far-Infrared Observatory (SAFIR) will combine a large primary mirror with active cooling to provide unprecendented sensitivity at far-IR and submillimeter wavelengths. The observatory will study the formation of structures, from the first stars and galaxies in the distant universe to planetary systems around nearby stars.
Science Goals:
  • Probe the epoch of reionization due to the first stars when the universe was less than 1/20 its present age
  • Trace the formation and evolution of starforming and active galaxies since their inception.
  • Explore the connection between black holes and their host galaxies.
  • Reveal the details of star and planet formation in nearby debris-disk systems.
  • Search for and quantify prebiotic molecules in the interstellar medium.

Observatory Characteristics:
  • Primary Mirror Diameter: 5-10 m class
  • Telescope Temperature: 5 K or lower
  • Wavelength Coverage: 20 microns to 1 mm

Instruments on board:
  • Background-limited detector arrays with thousands of pixels for broad-band imaging over the full wavelength range.
  • Moderate resolution (R~1000) spectrometers with background-limited sensitivity and near-unit fractional bandwidth.

Sun-Earth L2 point
(Alternatives, e.g., a 3 AU orbit, are under consideration.)

Key Technologies:
  • Large, cryogenic telescope.
  • Long-life cryocoolers capable of reaching 5 K.
  • Background-limited direct detectors for both continuum and spectral observations.
  • Quantum-noise-limited heterodyne spectrometers tunable over the far-IR spectral region.

Launch NET 2015
5-year mission lifetime

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