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ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects


Infrared Astronomy

Main Theme Infrared Astronomy
Mission Responsibility JAXA/ESA
Launch Date 2017
End of Mission 2022
Current phase A


European participation to the SPICA (Space Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics) mission was selected as an opportunity mission in October 2007 for a feasibility study within the framework of ESA's "Cosmic Vision 2015-2025". The objective is astronomy observation in the medium and far infrared with sensitivity two orders of size better than Herschel's thanks to a 3.5 m telescope and three focal plane instruments that will be cooled at around 4K using a combination of highly reliable mechanical coolers and passive radiation cooling. European participation to the SPICA mission envisages the development of the mirror, a contribution to the Ground Segment and the supply by a European research institutions consortium of the spectrophotometric instrument in the far infrared called SAFARI (SpicA FAR-infrared Instrument).


Scientific Objectives
The data supplied by SPICA will allow the advancement of knowledge in various astrophysics sectors, from research on the first stars born in the Universe through the detection of the emission of molecular hydrogen lines, the discovery of protoplanetary discs around the stars, the study of the evolution of early galaxies, to the interstellar means and the chemistry of gas and dust in the Galaxy and local galaxies.

Italian Contribution
Italian scientists with lengthy experience in the sector will participate in the SAFARI consortium contributing significantly to the on-board electronics, the on-board control software, the definition and description of one of the possible systems of detectors of the focal plane, the preparation of an analysis of data reduction and scientific activities related to mission support.

International Agreements
The SPICA mission falls within ESA's Science Programme framework to which Italy contributes about 13%.