JWST NIRSpec factsheet

Name
NIRSpec stands forNear-InfraRedSpectrograph.

Status
NIRSpec is manufactured and tested. It will be delivered to NASA in September 2013. It will then be integrated into the JWST payload module called the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM). It will go through the full sequence of JWST assembly and testing up to launch in 2018.

Partnership
NIRSpec is part of ESA’s contribution to the JWST mission. NIRSpec is built for ESA by a consortium of European companies led by EADS Astrium Gmbh. Two of its sub-systems (detectors and micro-shutters) are provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.

Description
NIRSpec is one of four science instruments on JWST. It will support JWST's four main science themes by providing low, medium and high-resolution spectroscopic observations in the near-infrared (from 0.6 to 5.0 microns). In its primary mode, it is a multi-object spectrograph capable of observing more than 100 objects simultaneously over a 9 square-arcminute field of view. In its integral field spectroscopy mode, it will allow astronomers to study the detailed structure of extended objects while its slit spectroscopy mode will be used, among other things, to study the properties of extra-solar planets.

Size and weight
NIRSpec has a size of approximately 1.9 m x 1.3 m x 0.7 m and weighs less than 220 kg.

NIRSpec facts
NIRSpec will be the first multi-object spectrograph in space, made possible by a state-of-the-art instrument design and the use of almost a quarter of a million micro-shutters arranged in four arrays (provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center).

NIRSpec is equipped with an integral field unit optimized for the spectroscopic study of complex extended objects. It will provide 900 spectra per exposure over a field of view of 3” x 3”.

The structural parts of NIRSpec and almost all of its mirrors are made of Silicon Carbide (SiC), a novel ceramic material, with very high stiffness-to-mass ratio and thermal stability.

NIRSpec will allow scientists to study objects embedded in shrouds of gas and dust, to find out more about how galaxies formed and evolved, and to analyse the atmospheres of extrasolar planets to determine if water is present.

Last update: 6 September 2013

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