The SPHEREx All-Sky Spectroscopic Survey

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 3:30pm PDT
Stephen C. Unwin
N232, room 103
Event Type: 

SPHEREx is a mission to conduct an optical-near-IR survey of the entire sky with a spectrum at every pixel location. It was selected by NASA for a Phase A study in its Small Explorer Program; if selected, development would begin in 2017, and the observatory would start a 2-year prime mission in 2020.  An all-sky spectroscopic survey can be used to tackle a wide range of science questions.  The SPHEREx science team is focusing on three: (1) Probing the physics of inflation through measuring non-Gaussianity from the study of large-scale structure; (2) Studying the origin of water and biogenic molecules in a wide range of physical and chemical environments via ice absorption spectra; (3) Charting the history of star formation in the universe through intensity mapping of the large-scale spatial power. The instrument is a small wide-field telescope operating in the range of 0.75 - 5.0 µm at a spectral resolution of 41.4 in the optical and 135 at the long-wavelength end.  It observes in a sun-sync low-earth orbit, covering the sky like WISE and COBE. SPHEREx is a simple instrument that requires no new technology. The Phase A design has substantial technical and resource margins and can be built with low risk.  It is a partnership between Caltech and JPL, with Ball Aerospace and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute as major partners.


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