NIRST - A Near Infrared Telescope in Solar Orbit

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Session 4 -- Instrumentation and Techniques II: Space Based
Display presentation, Monday, June 12, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[4.04] NIRST - A Near Infrared Telescope in Solar Orbit

E.L.Wright (UCLA), P.R.M.Eisenhardt (JPL)

The NIRST proposal in response to the NASA New Mission Concepts in Astrophysics AO was selected for further study this summer. ELW, PRME, Eric Becklin, Ian McLean and Tom Chester are the members of the NIRST science team.

NIRST is a meter-class passively cooled telescope in a heliocentric orbit to observe in the 2.5 -- 5.3 $\mu$m window in the zodiacal light. This simple instrument will detect sources as faint as 50 nJy at 3.2 $\mu$m (L $\approx 24.5$) and 180 nJy at 4.6 $\mu$m (M $\approx 22.5$), and obtain spectra to L $\sim 20$. NIRST will provide L and M photometry on more than $10^8$ very distant normal galaxies out to redshifts $z > 6$. This mission will also unequivocally answer the question of whether brown dwarfs, of any mass between $10^{-3}$ M$_{\sun}$ and 0.07 M$_{\sun}$, make up the halo of the Milky Way or contribute any significant ``missing mass'' in the solar neighborhood. Finally, if this mission can be approved and launched rapidly, it will provide more definite masses and velocities for the events detected by the on-going MACHO surveys.

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