SPICA: The Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics

Update: Since October 2020, SPICA is no longer considered as a candidate for M5 mission. (https://sci.esa.int/web/cosmic-vision/-/spica-no-longer-candidate-for-esa-s-m5-mission-selection).

SPICA is a joint European-Japanese project proposed in the European Space Agency (ESA) M5 mission call, and selected as one of the three candidate missions to be further studied in so-called phase A. This phase lasts until summer 2021, when one of the three missions will be selected, to be launched on 2032.

SPICA will be an infrared space observatory equipped with a cryogenically cooled 2.5-meter telescope actively cooled to below 8K, combined with a new generation of ultra-sensitive instruments: SMI (mid-IR spectrometer/camera), B-BOP (far-IR Polarimeter) and SAFARI (far-IR Spectrometer). SPICA will be able to cover the spectral range from 12 to 230 µm to unprecedented depths of a few 10-20 W/m2 for spectroscopy (5σ) in 1 hour. The sensitivity of SPICA will be more than two orders of magnitude better than the sensitivity of both Spitzer and Herschel. It will open new window in studies of galaxy evolution, studies of star formation and exoplanets.