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Proceedings Paper

Shuttle Infrared Telescope Facility
Author(s): Stephen G. McCarthy
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Paper Abstract

Infrared astronomy can realize orders of magnitude improvement in sensitivity when the observing telescope is raised above the lower atmosphere. The Shuttle Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) will combine this high sensitivity with the flexibility offered by the Space Transportation System: flights of 7 to 30 days repeated at 4 to 6 month intervals, the freedom to modify or replace focal plane instruments between flights, and electrical, cryogen, and data management support. A recently completed study has generated a preliminary design which demonstrates the feasibility of SIRTF. The 1. 0 to 1. 5 meter aperture, f/8 Gregorian telescope will be cooled to 20°K by a stored supercritical helium system. The telescope will be pointed and stabilized at two levels: the European-developed Instrument Pointing System provides primary pointing and stabilization; and an internal star tracker senses residual errors and drives a folding mirror inside the telescope to null the errors. The folding mirror can also be driven by square or triangular waves to provide space chopping or small-area scanning. Power requirements and data rates are compatible with Shuttle capabilities. SIRTF and its support equipment comprise one-half to a full Shuttle payload depending on mission duration.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 November 1976
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 0095, Modern Utilization of Infrared Technology II, (15 November 1976); doi: 10.1117/12.955151
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen G. McCarthy, Hughes Aircraft Company (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0095:
Modern Utilization of Infrared Technology II
Irving J. Spiro, Editor(s)

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