The science case and mission concept for the single aperture far-infrared (SAFIR) observatory

Daniel Lester, Dominic Benford, Andrew Blain, C. Matt Bradford, Mark Dragovan, William Langer, Charles Lawrence, David Leisawitz, John Mather, S. Harvey Moseley, Mundy Lee, George Rieke, Gordon Stacey, Harold Yorke, Erick Young

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


SAFIR is a large (10 m-class), cold (4-10 K) space telescope for wavelengths between 20 microns and 1 mm. It will provide sensitivity a factor of a hundred or more greater than that of Spitzer and Herschel, leveraging their capabilities and building on their scientific legacies. Covering this scientifically critical wavelength regime, it will complement the expected wavelength performance of the future flagship endeavors JWST and ALMA. This vision mission will probe the origin of stars and galaxies in the early universe, and explore the formation of solar systems around nearby young stars. Endorsed as a priority by the Decadal Study and successive OSS roadmaps, SAFIR represents a huge science need that is matched by promising and innovative technologies that will allow us to satisfy it. In exercising those technologies it will create the path for future infrared missions. This paper reviews the scientific goals of the mission and promising approaches for its architecture, and considers remaining technological hurdles. We review how SAFIR responds to the scientific challenges in the OSS Strategic Plan, and how the observatory can be brought within technological reach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1507-1521
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 3
StatePublished - 2004
EventOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter Space Telecopes - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 21 2004Jun 25 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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