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Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program

A compact high-resolution grating spectrograph for spaceborne infrared astronomy

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

A compact high-resolution grating spectrograph for spaceborne infrared astronomy
The primary research area for this investigation is space-based astronomical observations of the infrared universe; specifically, in the areas of star and planet formation, astro-chemistry, evolved stars, solar system atmospheres, and probing the atmospheres of extra-solar planets. This proposed work's primary objective is to increase the technology readiness level of a high-resolution infrared spectrograph that employs a Germanium immersion grating as the primary diffractive optical element. This spectrograph's optical pathway would be designed to fit within a compact volume consistent with a low overall instrument mass, potentially enabling novel high-resolution spectroscopy on a small-format spacecraft. Additionally, maturing this capability now makes possible a high-spectral resolution mid-IR spectroscopy mode for 2020 Decadal Candidate missions such as the Far Infrared Surveyor or the Large Ultraviolet, Optical, and Infrared Surveyor. The investigation would deliver performance data from an optical-bench test version of a Germanium-immersion-grating-equipped instrument. This preliminary design and performance data will next be used to support a proposal for further technical readiness level advancement such as building a spectrograph for a ground-based, balloon-based, or sounding rocket telescope observations. More »

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