Go アカリ!!

Perhaps this could be the sound of opportunity knocking…

AKARI, formerly known as ASTRO-F is a JAXA space telescope from the same stables as the truly wonderful KAGUYA and HINODE space probes. It was sent into orbit with a supply of liquid helium coolant intended to last a bit over a year and a half. During that time, it mapped most of the sky in infrared at extremely high resolution (the colder it is, the less noise — and liquid helium is about as cold as it gets).

Since it’s launch in 2006 it has run out of coolant but continues to be mechanically cooled to around 40K. Now it enters what they’ve termed it’s post-helium phase of operation. It has now been essentially thrown open to all of it’s funding partners for telescope time, and courtesy of ESA, this means we can submit a proposal. They’re taking submissions right up until July 4th, so I really better get analysing those spectra of mine and see if I need any more data!

AKARI is capable of both imaging and spectroscopy at 1.8 – 5.5 micron wavelengths. This interests me greatly, because a number of interesting spectral features lie in that region, including one that I’ve recently become rather interested in! Infrared astronomy is always better from orbit, just because the atmosphere has a habit of getting into the way. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having an atmosphere as much as anyone else… It just has a habit of absorbing lots of that lovely IR and potentially masking genuine stellar features.

I wonder what AKARI’s resolution is like…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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