The Institute of Optics


Colloquia & Guest Speakers


Prospects for a Space-based Spatio-spectral Interferometer in the Far-Infrared

Dave Leisawitz, NASA

Monday, April 20, 2015
3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Goergen 101, Sloan Auditorium


The far-infrared astrophysics community is eager to follow up Spitzer and Herschel observations with sensitive, high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy, for such measurements are needed to understand merger-driven star formation and chemical enrichment in galaxies, star and planetary system formation, and the development and prevalence of water-bearing planets. The Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope (SPIRIT) is a wide field-of-view space-based spatio-spectral interferometer designed to operate in the 25 to 400 micron wavelength range. This talk will summarize the SPIRIT mission concept, with a focus on the science that motivates it and the technology that enables it. Without mentioning SPIRIT by name, the astrophysics community through the NASA Astrophysics Roadmap Committee recommended this mission as the first in a series of space-based interferometers. Data from a laboratory testbed interferometer will be used to illustrate how the spatio-spectral interferometry technique works.


Research interests: star and planetary system formation; infrared astrophysics; wide-field spatio-spectral interferometry; far-IR space interferometry

Current activities and roles:

• Chief, Science Proposal Support Office, NASA GSFC

• Mission Scientist, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)

• Principal Investigator, Wide-field Imaging Interferometry

• Co-I, Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry (BETTII)

Former role: Lead Study Scientist and PI, Space Infrared Interferometric Telescope