SPICA: Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics
SPICA is a far-infrared astronomy project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 2013, discussion between ISAS/JAXA and ESA concluded that an enhanced ESA participation would be preferable and, incidentally, that the European component will need to compete in the 4th M-class (so-called M4) competition in late 2014, with the goal of a launch in 2026.
With a 3.2-meter diameter (EPD 3.0m), its large mirror will be actively cooled down to less than 6K. SPICA will achieve high sensitivity and spatial resolution. At least two instruments are currently planned in the payload: i) the European SAFARI (SpicA FAR-infrared Instrument) will operate from 34 to 210 microns with a spectral resolution from 20 to 2,000; and ii) the mid-infrared camera and spectrometer (5-38 microns with various spectral resolutions).
The figure shows the thermal infrared radiation of warm telescopes (>20 K, red lines) in comparison with typical astronomical diffuse emission (blue lines). The emission of such warm telescopes completely dominate in the mid-infrared regime, hindering high-sensitivity observations. In contrast, the infrared emission of SPICA's cryogenically-cooled telescope will be reduced significantly, virtually providing no contribution in the wavelength coverage of SPICA. Astronomical diffuse emission and confusion will be the only limiting background. The green box corresponds to the wavelength coverage of SAFARI.
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