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Published July 12, 2008 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

The Star Formation Observatory (SFO) mission to study cosmic origins near and far


The Star Formation Observatory (SFO) is a 1.65m space telescope that addresses pivotal components in the 2007 NASA Science Plan, with a primary focus on Cosmic Origins. The design under consideration provides 100 times greater imaging efficiency and >10 times greater spectroscopic efficiency below 115 nm than existed on previous missions. The mission has a well-defined Origins scientific program at its heart: a statistically significant survey of local, intermediate, and high-redshift sites and indicators of star formation, to investigate and understand the range of environments, feedback mechanisms, and other factors that most affect the outcome of the star and planet formation process. This program relies on focused capabilities unique to space and that no other planned NASA mission will provide: near- UV/visible (20-1100 nm) wide-field, diffraction-limited imaging; and high-efficiency, low- and high- resolution (R~40,000) UV (100-175 nm) spectroscopy using far-UV optimized coatings and recent advances in Micro-Channel Plate (MCP) detector technology. The Observatory imager has a field of view in excess of 17' × 17' (>250 arcmin²) and uses a dichroic to create optimized UV/blue and red/near-IR channels for simultaneous observations, employing detectors that offer substantial quantum efficiency gains and that suffer lower losses due to cosmic rays.

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© 2008 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).

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