Special Colloquium: Dr. Kevin France
Ultraviolet Spectroscopy from Suborbital and SmallSat Platforms: Little NASA Missions Supporting Big NASA Observatories and Bigger Science
Dr. Kevin France
University of Colorado
Ultraviolet spectroscopy is a powerful tool for quantifying the physical state of molecular, neutral, and ionized gas in the universe. From circumgalactic gas reservoirs, to circumstellar disks around young stars, to atmospheres of solar system bodies, ultraviolet (90 – 320nm) emission and absorption lines provide unique diagnostics of the composition, temperature, kinematics, and excitation conditions of these regions. As we look to the science capabilities of future large missions (e.g., the Large/Ultraviolet/Optical/InfraRed (LUVOIR) Surveyor), we require UV instruments that are both more efficient and more capable than our flagship instruments of today (HST/STIS and COS). Future UV spectrographs will rely on advanced components: UV mirror coatings, diffraction gratings, large format photon-counting detectors, and multi-object field selectors. These components are currently being developed and flight-tested through NASA’s suborbital research program.
In this talk, I will present an overview of NASA’s sounding rocket + cubesat science and technology program. I will focus on the development of hardware required to realize the LUVOIR Ultraviolet Multi-Object Spectrograph (LUMOS), an ambitious UV spectroscopy and imaging instrument for LUVOIR. I will discuss two University of Colorado sounding rocket payloads (CHESS and SISTINE) that are demonstrating detector, coating, grating, and optical designs currently baselined for LUVOIR. I will also describe two cubesat missions in development (CUTE and SPRITE), highlighting the power of small UV spectrographs to provide unique data on topics as diverse as atmospheric escape from exoplanets to ionizing radiation escape from star-forming galaxies.