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M. Rieke, D. Kelly (Steward Observatory), S. Horner (Lockheed Martin), NIRCam Team
The NIRCam science objectives are to detect and identify "first light" objects, to study star and brown dwarf formation, and to detect, characterize, and study planetary systems and planet formation. These three science programs are also the key objectives of the JWST program as a whole. The NIRCam instrument is optimized to achieve these objectives within the mission constraints and will offer 10-sigma detection limits of order 10-20 nJy in 10000s. NIRCam is currently conducting subsystem critical design reveiws (CDRs) leading up to the overall instrument CDR this spring. This means that the NIRCam design is nearly complete and flight hardware manufacture has begun. This poster reviews the science objectives of NIRCam and reports the current instrument status.
NIRCam consists of two optics modules, each with a field of view of 2.3 arcmin square. The modules are identical except for the mechanical layout. Each module consists of two channels divided by a dichroic beamsplitter. The short wavelength channel has a band pass of 0.6 - 2.3 microns with pixels sized for Nyquist sampling of the PSF at 2.0 microns (0.032 arcsec/pixel). The long wavelength channel has a band pass of 2.3 - 5.0 microns, with pixels sized for Nyquist sampling at 4.0 microns (0.065 arcsec/pixel). Selections of wide (R~4), intermediate (R~10), and narrow (R~100) filters are provided in each of the four channels, along with coronagraphic occulting masks and pupil stops. A refractive optical design results in a smaller instrument volume and mass, provides good images at the pupils for wavefront sensing and coronagraphy, allows good access to the pupils and focal planes, and relaxes the alignment requirements compared to a reflective design.
The NIRCam instrument is funded by NASA/GSFC under contract NAS5-02105.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.