Title

Wide-Field InfrarRed Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets WFIRST-AFTA 2015 Report

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2015

Abstract

This report describes the 2014 study by the Science Definition Team (SDT) of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. It is a space observatory that will address the most compelling scientific problems in dark energy, exoplanets and general astrophysics using a 2.4-m telescope with a wide-field infrared instrument and an optical coronagraph. The Astro2010 Decadal Survey recommended a Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope as its top priority for a new large space mission. As conceived by the decadal survey, WFIRST would carry out a dark energy science program, a microlensing program to determine the demographics of exoplanets, and a general observing program utilizing its ultra wide field. In October 2012, NASA chartered a Science Definition Team (SDT) to produce, in collaboration with the WFIRST Study Office at GSFC and the Program Office at JPL, a Design Reference Mission (DRM) for an implementation of WFIRST using one of the 2.4-m, Hubble-quality telescope assemblies recently made available to NASA. This DRM builds on the work of the earlier WFIRST SDT, reported by Green et al. (2012) and the previous WFIRST-2.4 DRM, reported by Spergel et. (2013). The 2.4-m primary mirror enables a mission with greater sensitivity and higher angular resolution than the 1.3-m and 1.1-m designs considered previously, increasing both the science return of the primary surveys and the capabilities of WFIRST as a Guest Observer facility. The addition of an on-axis coronagraphic instrument to the baseline design enables imaging and spectroscopic studies of planets around nearby stars.

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