Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NASA Contributions to the Herschel Space Observatory

Through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, NASA is contributing key technology to two of Herschel's three detector instruments: SPIRE and HIFI

NASA Hardware Contribution

Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE)

SPIRE will use "spider web bolometers", which are 40 times more sensitive than previous composite bolometers. They were developed by JPL's Dr. James Bock, SPIRE's Co-Investigator. In recognition of his innovation, Dr. Bock received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in March, 2002, the highest honor the U.S. government bestows on outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent careers.

Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI)

HIFI will sense radiation along six wavelength bands. NASA is providing the mixers and local oscillator chains for the two highest bands, five and six; other local oscillator components for bands one through four; and power amplifiers.

NASA's Herschel Science Center
NASA also sponsors the NASA Herschel Science Center (NHSC), which provides the U.S. astronomical community with scientific and observational support throughout all phases of the Herschel mission. NHSC is operated by IPAC, the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology.