The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is the highest priority large space mission recommended by the recent decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. It is designed to perform wide-field imaging and slitless spectroscopic surveys of the visible to near-infrared sky. The Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets (AFTA) study design of the mission makes use of an existing 2.4m telescope to enhance light collecting and imaging performance. The main instrument is a wide-field multi-filter imager with infrared grism spectroscopy. It also features a small-field low-resolution integral field spectrograph. A coronagraph instrument was part of the study and has a primary science focus of direct imaging of gas-giant exoplanets and debris disks.
Achieving the full science potential of WFIRST-AFTA will require input from the astronomical community on how it intends to use the vast WFIRST-AFTA data archive for Cosmic Origins science. The infrared surveys and coronagraphic investigations will provide abundant opportunities for archival research. The high latitude wide-field infrared survey alone is expected to observe more than 500 million galaxies over a 2000 square degree area at a resolution of about 0.11 arc seconds in four broad near-infrared passbands. An active Guest Observer program will further populate the archive with a multitude of datasets. A cross-section of archival Cosmic Origins science investigations would be valuable input in the formative stages of the mission for discussions of high-level science products, catalogs, archive interface design, calibration requirements, data accessibility and distribution, computing resources, and archive operations.
This Science Analysis Group [SAG #8] will analyze how the archive is to be used and scope the data requirements necessary to conduct science investigations related to the Cosmic Origins theme. The SAG will solicit input from the community to identify the types of investigations that will be conducted, and the kinds of data products that are valued and needed. The SAG will also consider what other assets or efforts may be needed to maximize the science return from the WFIRST archive (e.g., coordination of WFIRST-AFTA data with LSST, Euclid, or JWST; GO funding for ground-based observations or theoretical studies). The SAG will document its findings in a report to the Astrophysics Subcommittee.
Hubble News from AAS 240!
With the help of Hubble, astronomers observed a white dwarf star ripping up planets. Read more: Press Release.
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