The star formation observatory (SFO) mission to study cosmic origins near and far

Paul A. Scowen, Rolf Jansen, Matthew Beasley, Brian Cooke, Shouleh Nikzad, Oswald Siegmund, Robert Woodruff, Daniela Calzetti, Steven Desch, Alex Fullerton, John Gallagher, Sangeeta Malhotra, Mark McCaughrean, Robert O'Connell, Sally Oey, Debbie Padgett, James Rhoads, Aki Roberge, Nathan Smith, Daniel SternJason Tumlinson, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


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 (200-1100 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter
StatePublished - 2008
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter - Marseille, France
Duration: Jun 23 2008Jun 28 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2008: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter


  • Astronomy
  • CCD
  • Imager
  • MCP
  • Observatory
  • Optical
  • Spectrograph
  • Star formation
  • UV

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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