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Session 3 - SIRTF.
Display session, Monday, January 13
SIRTF - The Space Infrared Telescope Facility - will be a cryogenically-cooled observatory for infrared astronomy from space. It will move beyond its illustrious predecessors - IRAS, COBE, and ISO - by using large format infrared arrays for both imaging and spectroscopy. SIRTF's instruments will provide imaging from 3.5 to 160um, spectroscopy from 5-40um, and the ability to measure spectral energy distributions from 5-100um. A novel warm-launch architecture enabled by a heliocentric orbit will allow SIRTF to carry an 85-cm diameter telescope and achieve a 2.5-yr cryogenic lifetime with a total mass much less than that of previous cryogenic missions. SIRTF will both complete NASA's family of Great Observatories and serve as a critical technical and scientific precursor to NASA's Origins program. Seventy- five-to-80% of the observing time on SIRTF will be available to the general scientific community.
The SIRTF schedule calls for completion of system definition in 1997 and start of final design and fabrication in 1998, leading to launch in 2002. A number of recent events support this schedule, including: Approval of the SIRTF Phase B funding in the 1997 NASA budget; the selection of Lockheed-Martin and Ball Aerospace as our industrial partners for the SIRTF development; the designation of IPAC as the SIRTF Science Operations Center; the demonstration of a working prototype of one of SIRTF's cross-dispersed spectrograph modules; the successful cryogenic testing of a candidate primary mirror for SIRTF.
The series of papers to be presented at this AAS session will summarize the technical status of SIRTF and highlight the plans for usage of SIRTF by the general community. This initial paper prsents a broad overview of SIRTF's recent progress and sets the stage for the detailed discussions included in the companion posters.
This work carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
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