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Session 72 - Proposed Space Missions.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center
The NIRST concept considers a meter-class telescope in a heliocentric orbit that trails slightly behind the Earth. It will be passively cooled to temperatures low enough to operate sensitive, large format InSb arrays. The strawman design in the proposal used an 85 cm diameter telescope and an instrument package with no moving parts: a two-color 3.2 \mum and 4.6 \mum camera with 1024 \times 1024 pixels covering a 15^\prime \times 15^\prime FOV, and a low resolution spectrograph (\lambda/\Delta\lambda \approx 100) which will observe 5 long slits simultaneously. This simple instrument will detect sources as faint as 50 nJy at 3.2 \mum (L \approx 24.5) and 180 nJy at 4.6 \mum (M \approx 22.5), and obtain spectra to L \sim 20.
The wavelengths covered by NIRST will be ideal for observing the light of older, slower evolving stars in distant (z > 2) galaxies and the thermal emission from old, cool brown dwarfs, since the methane absorption seen in Jupiter and GL 229B will suppress the 2.2 \mum emission visible from the ground.
Program listing for Wednesday